Spain completed an epic comeback to win the 2017 Under-17 European Championship final on Friday, beating England on penalties. The match ended in a 2-2 draw, with La Roja netting the equaliser in the dying minutes.
Callum Hudson-Odoi gave England the lead with the first chance of the match, but Mateu Morey scored a deserved equaliser shortly before half-time.
Phil Foden restored the lead after the break, and his team appeared to be on its way to the title. Nacho Diaz pulled Spain even with the final touch of the ball, however, powering home a header.
In the penalty shootout, England missed their second and third attempt, while Spain made all four of their tries. The final score was 4-1.
UEFA's official Twitter account shared the teams for the final:
📋 TEAMS: Joel Latibeaudiere, brought into the squad to replace Tashan Oakley-Boothe, starts for England. Spain are unchanged. 🏆 #U17EURO https://t.co/Rkbk2pJ7KU2017-5-19 17:05:06
Perhaps not surprisingly, both teams started very carefully, unwilling to take too many risks in the final. England were expected to dominate possession, as they have in all their matches, but La Roja gave the Lions a good battle in midfield.
Chances were few, with a few shots from long range going wide, but as the half wore on, England's pressure started to show cracks in the Spanish defence. After 18 minutes, Hudson-Odoi blasted the first real chance of the match into the top corner, giving England the lead.
AS English were impressed:
AS English @English_AS
Goooaaal!! Go-la-zoo!!! Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi nails one inside the top corner. Great finish. England lead 0-1 #EuroU172017-5-19 18:20:29
Replays showed his shot would have gone well wide had it not been touched by a defender, but the Lions didn't care one bit.
After the opening goal, Spain took control of the ball, and several good chances followed. Ferran Torres angled a shot into the side netting, and captain Abel Ruiz perhaps should have scored after a defensive blunder, shooting a volley well wide.
The best chance fell to Hugo Guillamon, as a deflected corner looped over the defence and gave him an open goal to target. He aimed his header at a defender, however.
Per Football Fragmento, Spain's dominance was evident:
Football Fragmento @footyfragmento
1-0 to England still. Spain look much better being positive. England having to defend well now. #U17EURO2017-5-19 18:32:58
La Roja deserved a goal, and they got just that shortly before half-time. The team set up a wonderful attack, which ended with Ruiz cutting the ball back for Morey, with the right-back blasting home. David Cartlidge of BeIN Sports USA noted the defender has a knack for scoring:
David Cartlidge @davidjaca
Another goal for Morey with Spain U-17. Third goal of the tournament for the right back. Run to make Abel Ruiz’s cutback excellent. #U17EURO2017-5-19 18:40:58
The two teams balanced each other nicely to start the second half, and goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez didn't have anything to do for the first nine minutes, before making a great save to deny Hudson-Odoi.
Spain were forced into their first substitution after 56 minutes when Barcelona ace Jandro Orellana suffered an injury and was replaced by Carlos Beitia. The teenager had been a huge factor in midfield for La Roja until that point and left the pitch in tears.
Just a minute later, Foden shocked Fernandez and the entire Spanish team by shooting after a badly cleared corner, and his strike snuck into the near corner after a slight deflection, via Scouted Football:
Scouted Football @ScoutedFtbl
FODEN! England lead 2-1! Foden with a sweet strike with his left foot. As scores stand, the U17 Championship is coming to England!2017-5-19 19:16:12
Spain again went looking pull even and, after a lovely attack, Sergio Gomez nearly scored, with goalkeeper Josef Bursik making a great save. The stopper wasn't troubled by Ruiz's curling effort, either.
La Roja dominated the final 15 minutes, and Gomez went very close to an equaliser, with his shot dipping just too late to find the target. Lewis Gibson almost worked the ball past his own stopper, but Bursik was paying attention and made another save.
A barrage of crosses didn't make a difference against England's vaunted defence, and Bursik make another good save in injury time, with Juan Miranda's effort bouncing across the face of goal. The goalkeeper was in line to win the Man of the Match award, but blundered on the final chance of the match, as Nacho's header should have easily been saved.
As shared by Squawka's Jake Entwistle, things weren't looking up for the Lions:
Jake Entwistle @JakeEntwistle
England's three best players this tournament are now on the bench for the penalty shootout. I'm going to cry. #U17EURO2017-5-19 19:43:51
Aidan Barlow, Ruiz and Morey started the shootout by making their penalties under the odd new format, that saw England go first before Spain had two attempts. Rhian Brewster blasted his shot onto the post, and Joel Latibeaudiere's shot went over the bar.
Spain needed just two makes to win the title, and Gomez and Victor Chust both converted.