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Swiss juniors conquer Europe

Switzerland's U-17 football team celebrates its history-making win

(Keystone)

Switzerland's under-17s have won the country's first ever trophy in international football after beating France in the final of the European Championships.

Considered rank outsiders before the tournament started, the Swiss youngsters managed to win every single one of their matches in Denmark to realise their unlikely dream.

Friday's final was the tightest game yet. Having built a reputation for solid defending throughout the tournament, the Swiss again succeeded in stifling their opponents' attacks.

However Switzerland themselves were unable to dig out many chances against the French, leaving the scoreline goal-less throughout regular and extra time.

Penalties

With the title going down to penalties, one might have expected the Swiss to be feeling somewhat out of practice compared to the French who won both their quarter-final and semi-final matches from the penalty spot.

Instead though it was the French who wobbled at the key moment. Two soft strikes from Guilaume Plessis and Samy Houri were well saved by Swiss keeper Swen König.

Sandro Büki, Giona Preisig, Tranquillo Barnetta and Reto Ziegler made no such mistakes for Switzerland to wrap up a 4-2 penalty triumph.

Friday's victory will be seen as a much-needed shot in the arm for Swiss football with the country's senior team having failed to reach the finals of all the major tournaments since 1996.

Under-21s next?

By contrast Switzerland's youngsters appear to be blossoming. As well as boasting a successful under-17 side, the country can also be proud of its under-21s who are taking part in (and hosting) their first ever European championship finals later this month.

Prior to Friday's win in Copenhagen, Switzerland's best ever performance in international football dated back to 1924. In that year the Swiss seniors reached the Olympic final in Paris only to lose 3-0 to Uruguay.

by Mark Ledsom


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