Three years after becoming the only team to win the European Under-16 title on a second occasion, Spain travelled to Switzerland and claimed the crown for a third time.
Holders Czechoslovakia were casualties of qualification, losing 3-2 on aggregate to Romania. However, the unified Germany, whose constituent parts had each been strong forces at U16 level, ensured a trip across the border with a 4-0 overall win against Northern Ireland.
The Germans were drawn in Group A in Switzerland, but opened with a 3-1 defeat by Austria - having led at half-time through Carsten Jancker - as Sweden defeated Bulgaria 1-0. Germany now needed to win their remaining fixtures to keep their hopes alive, and duly overcame Sweden 1-0 and Bulgaria 5-0. Austria had defeated Bulgaria 1-0, but a single-goal loss to Sweden meant both teams were pipped by Germany on goal difference.
Portugal began Group B with a 2-0 win against the hosts, as Greece beat Poland 1-0. The two Matchday 1 winners then drew 1-1, as did Switzerland and Poland. Therefore goal difference looked likely to decide this group too, and so it proved as Greece's 4-0 win against Switzerland outdid Portugal's 1-0 result versus Poland.
Group C started with two draws - 1-1 between Romania and Denmark, goalless for France and Finland. But France then started to score, beating Romania 3-0 and Denmark 4-1. Finland had overcome Denmark 2-1, but lost by the same scoreline to Romania to ease the French passage.
Spain's opening 4-1 win against the Soviet Union in Group D ultimately proved a decisive result. Iceland beat Yugoslavia 2-1 but then lost to Spain by the same score, as the USSR defeated Yugoslavia 3-1. The Yugoslavians bounced back to surprise Spain 3-2, but the Soviets' 2-0 win against Iceland was not enough to overturn their goal difference deficit.
An Antonio Segura goal early in the second half was enough for Spain to beat Greece 1-0 in the semi-finals, but a 1-1 draw sent Germany and France to penalties. The shoot-out was an epic before Karl-Heinz Lutz's effort proved decisive at 6-5. France then lost 5-4 on penalties to Greece after a 1-1 draw in the match for third place, but in the final at Berne's Wankdorf stadium Spain beat Germany 2-0 thanks to Segura goals on 25 and 35 minutes.
Spain were, however, denied in the final of the subsequent FIFA U-16 World Championship in Italy, losing 1-0 to Ghana. The hosts had fallen in the group stage, while Germany's bid was ended in the quarter-finals - by the Spanish.
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