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Spain have won the UEFA Women's Under-19 Championships for the second time after coming from behind to beat France 3-2 in a dramatic Final at Windsor Park.
In a repeat of last year's Final, holders France were quickly out of the blocks and were rewarded with the opening goal after just four minutes. Emelyne Laurent showed lightning pace to break down the left before her low cross set up Mathilde Bourdieu to score from close range.
Spain settled down following the early setback and got their close passing game going, bringing themselves level just after the quarter hour. Fernandez curled in an inswinging corner and with Mylene Chavas rooted to her line, Patricia Guijarro stole in to turn the ball home.
France were almost back in front straight away, a long range shot from Laurent crashing against the bar, whilst Guijarro went close again at the other end with a free kick which hit the side netting. Spain were starting to get on top but could not add to their earlier strike and the scoreline remained level going into half time.
The pace of the game was a lot slower after the break when compared to a frenetic first half, with Spain continuing to have the better of possession but neither team looking like making a breakthrough at this stage.
That was to change on 71 minutes though as the pacey Laurent was put through on goal by Thibaud and she sped away from the Spanish defence before neatly planting her shot past the oncoming Noella Ramos, to put the French ahead for the second time.
Spain pressed hard against a France side which now looked content to sit back and hit on the break. It was beginning to look as though the Spanish were heading for a fourth successive runners-up spot but five minutes from time, Menayo drilled a free kick into the area from deep and Egurrola managed to glance a header over the oncoming Chavas and over the covering defenders to equalise once again.
Things were to turn sour for France two minutes afterwards as Pauline Dechilly took a free kick on the halfway line too quickly for the referee's liking and the defender was shown an incredibly petty second yellow card, forcing her to leave the field and reduce her side to ten players.
Spain immediately went on the attack and won a free kick near the corner flag on the right hand side. A set piece would once more turn out to be fruitful, Menayo floating her kick to the far post where Guijarro rose highest to head in her second on the night and fifth of the tournament, to finally bring an end to her country's unwanted run of three Final defeats.
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Pauline Dechilly challenges Lucia Garcia
(bottom) Celebration time for Spain
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