- Netherlands beat Italy to win UEFA European Under-17 Championship
- Quintet qualify for FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019
- U-17 World Cup kicks off in South America later this year
The Netherlands were crowned continental champions after a 4-2 victory against Italy in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Republic of Ireland.
In a repeat of last year’s final, goals from Sontje Hansen, Naoufal Bannis, Ian Maatsen and Naci Unuvar gave the Dutch victory at Dublin’s Tallaght Stadium.
The Netherlands and Italy will be joined at the FIFA U-17 World Cup by defeated semi-finalists Spain and France, as well as World Cup play-off winners Hungary.
Reigning U-17 World Cup champions England, who failed to make it out of the group stage, will not be present to defend their crown in South America.
FIFA.com looks back at the U-17 EURO as Europe’s quintet completed the U-17 World Cup line-up.
Europe’s Brazil 2019-bound quintet
- The Netherlands
Les Bleuets Brazil-bound
France were the first European team to book their Brazil 2019 ticket – and they did so in emphatic fashion.
After topping an ultra-competitive group in the form of Sweden, England and the Netherlands, Les Bleuets secured their Brazil 2019 berth by thrashing Czech Republic 6-1 in the quarter-finals – four of their goals coming from 16-year-old Adil Aouchiche.
The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder’s nine goals not only set a new record at the U-17 EURO, it equalled the most for any UEFA football final tournament.
Les Bleuets then bowed out at the semi-final stage after surrendering a one-goal lead against Italy; Monaco’s Enzo Millot netting France’s only goal of that encounter. Brazil 2019 will mark France’s seventh FIFA U-17 appearance. Their best finish came in 2001 when they won the tournament in Trinidad and Tobago.
Oranje make global finals return
After France had secured their Brazil 2019 place, the Netherlands soon joined them. Finishing second behind Les Bleuets in Group B, the Netherlands set up a quarter-final meeting with Belgium.
A comfortable 3-0 victory followed, with Sontje Hansen, Anass Salah-Eddine and Ki-Jana all finding the net to secure a U-17 World Cup berth.
AZ Alkmaar midfielder Mohamed Taabouni’s late strike inside the D saw the Netherlands pip Spain in the semi-finals before a dominant display in the final against Italy saw the Oranje emerge as the continent’s kings.
In the final, the Dutch had the title pretty much sewn up by half-time, racing into a 3-0 lead by the interval thanks to goals from Hansen, Naoufal Bannis and Ian Maatsen. After the break, Naci Unuvar became the first 15-year-old to net in a UEFA U-17 EURO final to round off the Dutch scoring in a 4-2 victory.
It’s been eight years since the Netherlands last played at a U-17 World Cup, with a side featuring the likes of Memphis Depay exiting at the group stage at Mexico 2011. Brazil 2019 will be just their fourth appearance at the tournament, having picked up bronze on their debut at Peru 2005.
Italy sealed their return to the U-17 World Cup for the first time since 2013. After finishing top of Group A with a 100 per cent record against Spain, Germany and Austria, the Azzurrini booked their place at the global finals after seeing off Portugal in the quarter-finals.
Juventus midfielder Franco Tongya’s 26th-minute goal proved the decider in that encounter, before Italy progressed to the final after beating France 2-1 – goals coming from Inter’s Sebastiano Esposito and Verona’s Iyenoma Udogie.
The tournament’s finale was a step too far for Carmine Nunziata’s young charges though. They looked shell-shocked at half-time, going in 3-0 down before stepping up their game after the break. Lorenzo Colombo’s second-half brace, which included a stunning volley, did not reduce the deficit enough, with the Italians eventually defeated 4-2.
Brazil 2019 will be Italy’s eighth appearance at the U-17 World Cup. Their best finish came in 1987 when the Azzurrini finished fourth.
La Rojita on their way
2017 U-17 World Cup finalists Spain held their nerve in a penalty shoot-out to seal a return to the global finals.
A second-place finish in Group D set up a quarter-final meeting with Hungary which was decided on spot-kicks with the scoreline at 1-1 – goals coming from Valencia’s Jordi Escobar and midfielder Gergo Omingen.
La Rojita would prevail as Hungary’s Andras Nemeth failed to convert his attempt while every Spanish player scored. After guaranteeing a U-17 World Cup berth, Spain exited the U-17 EURO semi-finals at the hands of the Netherlands.
Spain are four-time finalists of the U-17 World Cup, their most recent coming at India 2017, but have yet to taste global success at that age group.
Hungary end 34-year wait
Hungary were the fifth side from Europe and the final team overall to complete the Brazil 2019 line-up after beating Belgium in the World Cup play-off match.
After suffering the heartbreak of losing on penalties against Spain in the quarter-finals, Hungary bounced back with a shoot-out victory of their own against Belgium, and with it, a coveted U-17 World Cup place.
In the U-17 EURO World Cup play-off match, Chris Kalulika put Belgium ahead at Dublin’s Tolka Park before Hungary’s Gyorgy Komaromi headed the equaliser to see the game finish 1-1 after 90 minutes – and to be decided on spot-kicks.
It was there that Hungary prevailed 5-4 after successfully netting all their penalties. Brazil 2019 will be Hungary’s second U-17 World Cup after reaching the quarter-finals of the tournament in their sole appearance in 1985.
With Europe’s quintet decided, the line-up for Brazil 2019 is complete. Who will take England’s crown as U-17 World Cup champions?