Spain claims fifth Under-19 crown in dramatic comeback


Ginés Meléndez’s side twice trailed but Paco Alcácer came off the bench and struck two goals in the second half of extra time to secure the title.
Substitute Paco Alcácer scored twice in the second half of extra time as Spain came from behind on two occasions to finally overcome the Czech Republic and claim a fifth UEFA European Under-19 Championship title in an engrossing final.
After an even first half in Chiajna, the Czechs struck first seven minutes after half-time thanks to Ladislav Krejčí’s fierce low shot. Spain, beaten in the 2010 final and seeking a fifth triumph in the competition – which means they would keep the trophy – pressed hard and got their reward in the 85th minute thanks to Jon Aurtenetxe’s opportunistic strike. Substitute Patrik Lácha restored the Czech lead in the 97th minute, but Paco Alcácer replied 11 minutes later and decided a gripping contest in Spain’s favour in the 115th minute.
The Czechs were first to threaten, a slick move down the left ending with Krejčí flashing a cross-shot past the far post. Spain produced some typically slick first-half interchanges, Pablo Sarabia a regular threat down the right while Álvaro Morata and Rubén Pardo also bristled with attacking menace.
The Czechs, however, regularly posed problems from set pieces, Jakub Brabec going close with a header from a corner early in the second period, although their 52nd-minute breakthrough came in open play. Substitute Martin Sladký started the move, winning possession just inside the Spain half, but the rest was all Krejčí’s own work, the midfielder holding off three defenders to drill a left-foot shot across Edgar Badia and into the far corner.