"We couldn't deal with their No9," Maren Meinert rued after her Germany team lost to Sweden in the 2015 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship semi-finals. It was a common refrain in Israel.
Twelve months on from Vivianne Miedema inspiring the Netherlands to a maiden title, another tall, blonde No9 was similarly influential as Sweden triumphed for the second time. Stina Blackstenius had already established new goalscoring highs when she showcased her devastating pace and power to a wider audience in the final. Spain never stood a chance.
Blackstenius announced her presence on 24 minutes with a barnstorming move that left the final record crowd of 7,320 collectively nodding with approval – they had neck ache by half-time. The Linköping forward was rampant, every bit the "animal" Sweden captain Nathalie Björn had billed her. Red shirts were strewn across the turf as she ran amok – two goals before the interval took her to 20 from ten appearances in the competition in 2014/15.
"It's very difficult to deal with a player like that," admitted Spain boss Jorge Vilda, whose father Ángel was in charge three years earlier when Spain lost 1-0 to Sweden in the decider. "It's like playing against a team with Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi – when they're that much better than the rest it's hard to get hold of them."
Vilda's side managed it for a while, and halved the deficit ten minutes from time but Blackstenius would not be denied. With a minutes left she surged to the byline and pulled the ball back for Filippa Angeldal to drive in. It was fitting that the final hung in the balance until the death.
Both semis went to penalties, Spain edging out France while Sweden got the better of Germany after a 3-3 draw their coach, Calle Barrling, described as the best youth game he has seen. Sweden had been two minutes from elimination, and they cut it even finer in qualifying with a goal in the last 60 seconds meaning they advanced at Italy's expense.
England's passage was even more dramatic after an unprecedented decision to retake a 94th-minute penalty against Norway five days after it was awarded, following a refereeing error. Leah Williamson held her nerve to take them through alongside their opponents. The sides were paired again in Group B, but lost out to Spain and Germany despite Norway stunning Germany 2-0.
The progress of France and Sweden from Group A was confirmed after two games, but there was a nice sub-plot in the last round as Israel – exceeding expectations in their debut finals – scored their first goal. But the goals that mattered most were those of Blackstenius as Sweden added the WU19 EURO title to the men's U21 EURO won a month earlier.
Final tournament results
• Group A: France 1-0 Denmark, Israel 0-3 Sweden; Sweden 1-0 Denmark, Israel 0-4 France; Denmark 2-1 Israel, Sweden 0-1 France
• Group B: England 1-2 Germany, Spain 4-0 Norway; England 1-3 Spain, Germany 0-2 Norway; Norway 0-0 England, Germany 1-0 Spain
• Semi-finals: France 1-1, 4-5p Spain, Germany 3-3, 2-4p Sweden
• Final: Spain 1-3 Sweden
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