England won the European Under-21 Championship for the first time in nearly 40 years after a dramatic last-minute penalty save by James Trafford ensured the Young Lions held on to beat Spain.
The 20-year-old then produced another brilliant stop on the follow-up before being mobbed by his team-mates.
The winning goal came with virtually the last kick of the first half when a Cole Palmer free-kick deflected off team-mate Curtis Jones and wrong-footed goalkeeper Arnau Tenas to find the bottom corner.
Spain, who had scored 13 goals in the tournament, had a Ruiz goal ruled out for offside after half-time, before Trafford’s late heroics sealed England’s victory.
The win meant Lee Carsley’s talented side are the third England team to win the competition after previously picking up the trophy in 1982 and 1984.
They are also the first team to record six successive clean sheets in the tournament’s history.
England hold on after immense pressure
The Young Lions have played an exciting brand of football in Georgia, with a side packed with attacking talent.
England started the final positively, with Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon having the first meaningful chance when his shot was pushed wide by Spain keeper Tenas.
Gordon was then involved again as he looked to tee up Morgan Gibbs-White before an interception from Jon Pacheco prevented the Nottingham Forest player from having a tap in.
Spain soon came into the match, with Alex Baena curling an effort past Trafford’s post before scuffing another effort wide after he had picked up a loose pass by Gibbs-White.
Chelsea defender Levi Colwill headed against the crossbar from an excellent delivery from Palmer, before the Manchester City man gave England the lead when his free-kick was deflected in by Liverpool’s Jones.
The half ended with bad blood as Palmer’s celebration led to a melee between both benches, which resulted in England coach Ashley Cole and Spanish fitness coach Carlos Rivera being sent to the stands.
England were under immense pressure during the second period, and it looked to have paid off for Spain when Ruiz headed in from a Baena cross, only for the offside flag to go up. Ruiz had another chance to equalise, but headed wide from inside the six-yard box.
The match ended in dramatic style when Colwill – so highly rated by England’s staff following his week training with the senior team – was judged to have fouled Ruiz in the box.
Trafford got down well to save the resulting penalty and an immediate follow-up to give England victory and spark scenes of jubilation.
The bad blood continued, however, with nine yellow and four red cards handed out by the final whistle, as Gibbs-White and Antonio Blanco were both sent off in the final throes.
Now that England have won the trophy, the discussions will start about which of these young stars will be knocking on the door of the senior squad and be in with a chance of playing in the senior European Championships next summer.
Future England number one?
Trafford, who is on the brink of becoming the third-most expensive English goalkeeper ever, will rightly take the headlines for his heroic double save in the last minute of added time of the final.
However, that moment just capped off what had already been a superb tournament, having been a standout player in this team from the very first game.
Trafford has shown he is the very definition of a modern-day goalkeeper – comfortable with the ball at his feet, dominant when coming for crosses and making eye-catching saves when called upon.
He also has immense self belief, telling people that he would one day play for England while he was on loan at Accrington Stanley.
During this competition he has spoken about his desire to play at the highest level and he will now get the chance next season when he becomes a Premier League number one at Turf Moor.
- 1TraffordBooked at 74mins
- 4ColwillBooked at 45mins
- 20PalmerSubstituted forElliottat 83′minutes
- 21GomesBooked at 24minsSubstituted forSkippat 73′minutes
- 10Smith RoweSubstituted forMaduekeat 67′minutes
- 7Gibbs-WhiteBooked at 90minsSubstituted forArcherat 73′minutes
- 11GordonSubstituted forDoyleat 83′minutes
- 2GómezSubstituted forBarrenetxeaat 73′minutes
- 6BlancoBooked at 90minsSubstituted forCamelloat 83′minutes
- 16Baena RodríguezBooked at 34minsSubstituted forOrozat 59′minutesBooked at 62mins
- 10Sánchez RodríguezSubstituted forRiquelmeat 59′minutesBooked at 86mins
- 8SancetBooked at 45minsSubstituted forVeiga Novasat 59′minutes
- 18Veiga Novas
- 20Sánchez de la Peña
- 23Román Riquelme
Match ends, England U21 1, Spain U21 0.
Second Half ends, England U21 1, Spain U21 0.
Foul by Sergio Camello (Spain U21).
Oliver Skipp (England U21) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Second yellow card to Morgan Gibbs-White (England U21).
Second yellow card to Antonio Blanco (Spain U21).
Attempt missed. Sergio Camello (Spain U21) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high following a set piece situation.
Attempt saved. Aimar Oroz (Spain U21) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Penalty saved! Abel Ruiz (Spain U21) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the bottom left corner.
VAR Decision: Penalty Spain U21.
Penalty Spain U21. Abel Ruiz draws a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty conceded by Levi Colwill (England U21) after a foul in the penalty area.
Attempt missed. Abel Ruiz (Spain U21) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Aimar Oroz with a cross.
Offside, England U21. James Garner tries a through ball, but Cameron Archer is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Noni Madueke (England U21) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt saved. Harvey Elliott (England U21) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Cameron Archer.
Attempt missed. Sergio Gómez (Spain U21) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Ander Barrenetxea.
Jon Pacheco (Spain U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Cameron Archer (England U21).
Rodrigo Riquelme (Spain U21) is shown the yellow card.