Portugal U-21. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0
THE rapid improvement of Dave Sexton's England Under-21 side from a ragged collection of no- hopers into an enterprising and cohesive unit was endorsed here in the Stade Mayol on a balmy evening yesterday. Two goals in a seven-minute spell after the interval by Trevor Sinclair and Bruce Dyer gave England the trophy for the fourth time in five years.
The only other winners in that period were Portugal, who realistically wasted their chance of adding to their one success, in 1992, by having two players sent off in their semi-final with France.
Andrade and Carvalho were thus suspended from the final, which was dominated by England, who were unchanged for the first time in the tournament, with Chris Bart-Williams keeping his place up front, alongside Dyer, at the expense of the fit-again Robbie Fowler. For all England's first-half superiority, they created only one chance, spurned by Ray Parlour.
Portugal looked threatening only when Bambo had the ball, one of his many astute passes leading to Simao forcing Michael Oakes into a save at full stretch. Jamie Redknapp, a deserved recipient of the individual award for the most elegant player of the tournament, started the moves which led to both England goals from dead-ball kicks.
His corner, three minutes after half-time, was headed down by Stuart Nethercott and thumped in on the volley by Sinclair. Seven minutes later a quickly taken free-kick by the England captain led to Parlour finding Bart-Williams, who evaded Henriques' challenge on the byeline. From his cross Dyer hit his third goal in successive games.
The only threat to England's supremacy was a spate of bookings and a shot from Bambo, which was much too close for comfort. The reliable Oakes, who had started the tournament as third-choice goalkeeper, then sprang to his left in the closing minutes to deny Calado.
ENGLAND U21 (4-4-2): Oakes (Aston Villa); Makin (Oldham Athletic), Campbell, Nethercott (both Tottenham Hotspur), Gordon (Crystal Palace); Sinclair (QPR), Parlour (Arsenal), Redknapp, Matteo (both Liverpool); Bart-Williams (Sheffield Wednesday), Dyer (Crystal Palace).
PORTUGAL U21: (1-3-4-2): P Morais (Sporting Lisbon); Afonso (Benfica); Adalberto (Leca), Litos (Estoril), Henriques (Benfica); Renato (Salgueiros), Costa (AD Ovarense), Calado (Amadora), Marco Paulo (Estoril); Bambo (Boavista), Simao (Salgueiros). Substitutes: Ribeiro (UD Oliveirense) for Costa, 50; N Morais (Gil Vicente) for Renato, 52; Vierira (Belenenses) for Marco Paulo, 69; Sanpaio (Beira-Mar) for P Morais, 75.
Referee: J L Van Vliet (Netherlands).