UEFA European Under-18 Championship winners in 1996 and 1997, France did not qualify the next year and then the following season departed the finals without a win. But in 2000 they captured the trophy for a record fourth time.
Germany were given hosting rights for the third time in the tournament's 20-year history. Holders Portugal went out unbeaten behind Slovakia on goal difference, 1999 runners-up Italy lost both legs of their play-off to the Czech Republic and the Republic of Ireland, first and third in the previous editions, fell to France 2-0 on aggregate.
Ukraine, qualifying at the seventh attempt, opened the tournament against the hosts and won 1-0 thanks to Oleksiy Byelik's 63rd-minute goal. The Netherlands defeated Croatia 3-0 but then lost to Germany by the same score as Ukraine overcame Croatia 2-1. The Dutch now needed to defeat Ukraine, but their game ended goalless. Germany clinched second place by beating Croatia 3-0 to join finalists Ukraine and the Netherlands in the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
France led at half-time in their first Group B fixture against Finland - but then lost 2-1 as Mikael Forssell struck twice. The Czech Republic, like Ukraine in their first finals as an independent nation, drew 1-1 with Russia, themselves ending a six-year absence from the final tournament. France bounced back to defeat the Czechs 1-0, as Russia were held 1-1 again by Finland. Finland led the way but their hopes died in a 3-2 defeat by the Czech Republic which allowed France to steal through as Gaël Givet and Lionel Mathis scored in the final 17 minutes against Russia, the only team from the group to miss out on the World Cup.
Germany recovered from conceding an early Milan Baroš goal to win bronze with a 3-1 win against a Czech squad that contained the basis of the 2002 UEFA European U21 Championship-winning side. France would lose that final in Switzerland, but this time around in Nuremberg they secured the title against Ukraine as substitute Hervé Bugnet got the only goal with ten minutes left.
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