Spain exploited home advantage to win their second Under-16 title, in a final tournament where six of 16 teams remained undeafeated over 90 minutes.
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In 1986/87, when the U16 title was not awarded, holders Spain had not even qualified. A year on they were selected as hosts, and became the first nation to win the competition for the second time.
Italy, who had won the 1987 edition only to lose the trophy for fielding an ineligible player, failed to qualify this time, losing 9-8 on penalties to Switzerland, having won the home second leg 3-0 to match the Swiss victory in the first game. The Soviet Union, 1987 runners-up and then world champions, lost 4-2 on aggregate to Yugoslavia. West Germany, the other former champions along with Italy, Spain and the USSR, did make the finals and were drawn in Group A. They began with a 1-1 draw against Norway, then defeated Austria 3-0 to go top. A 2-1 victory against Finland then took them through.
Group B came to a thrilling conclusion. Sweden defeated Yugoslavia 1-0 on Matchday 1 as East Germany drew 1-1 with Romania, who repeated that score two days later against the Swedes. East Germany claimed the only goal against Yugoslavia, and met Sweden with the teams dead level. Since Romania had another 1-1 draw against Yugoslavia, the same result between East Germany and Sweden meant the joint pool winners had to be split by a penalty shoot-out, the first in any UEFA tournament group stage. By a 5-4 scoreline, East Germany came through.
Hosts Spain, in Group C, were held 0-0 by Hungary in their opener but subsequent victories against France then Turkey, 4-2, took them through. Not only did Sweden, Romania and Hungary all go out unbeaten, so did the Republic of Ireland in Group D. Their first result was 0-0 against Portugal as Belgium beat Switzerland 2-1. The Swiss then held Ireland 2-2, as Portugal secured the only goal against Belgium. So although Ireland also defeated Belgium 1-0, they could not overtake Portugal as they beat Switzerland by the same score.
Iberia overcame Germany in the semi-finals - Spain 3-0 against the West and Portugal 4-0 versus the East. The GDR defeated their neighbours 5-4 on penalties for bronze after a goalless draw, and the situation was similar in the final in Madrid, Spain beating Portugal 4-2 in their shoot-out.