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Unlike the other semi-finalists, England have never won the UEFA European Under-17 Championship, but the evidence so far is that this could well be their year.
Having already booked a last-four place before meeting Turkey last night, they came from behind to win 2-1 and top Group B. That earned them a generous round of applause at Wembley when the crowd was told of their progress at half-time in England's senior friendly with Mexico, and they would have been on their feet if they had seen Saido Berahino's equaliser as he bamboozled three Turkey defenders with his footwork and feints before producing a neat finish.
In fact, the West Bromwich Albion FC striker was not even with the squad when they began the finals with a 3-1 win against the Czech Republic last Tuesday, but that night Berahino flew out to Liechtenstein after Chuks Aneke had to withdrawn through injury. Berahino sat out the 1-0 defeat of Greece but got his chance against Turkey.
I was itching to go, I was waiting patiently and I think I took my chance today; I did well," Berahino told UEFA.com. "[Before being called up] I was waiting for it and finally I'm here now, I'm going to take the chance."
He did just that not long after Turkey had gone ahead in Vaduz. "When the ball came to me the first thing was – can I shoot?" Berahino said. "I was trying to twist and turn, took the defenders on, and I managed to squeeze in the ball through the near-post gap. I was happy with myself."
Also happy with Berahino was England manager John Peacock. "Saido would have been very disappointed he wasn't in the squad of 18 having made a big contribution in the qualifying tournaments but he just dropped straight back into the squad," Peacock said. "That's testimony to the dynamic within the group and the team spirit within it. He quickly adapted to the situation and I'm delighted he's gone on and scored today."
Next for Peacock's side is France in Thursday afternoon's semi-final, opponents who Berahino knows well having been a substitute when England drew 1-1 with Les Mini-Blues on their way to winning February's Algarve Tournament. "The boys are doing really well so hopefully we can get through to the final as well," Berahino said. "It is definitely a happy camp. We're a good group, we keep humble, we keep ourselves to ourselves and I think we're doing really well."
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