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England and Georgia join the elite

Published: Saturday 23 October 2010, 21.30CET
After two wins and a draw apiece in Tbilisi, holders England and mini-tournament hosts Georgia have qualified for the UEFA European Under-17 Championship elite round.
by Vakhtang Bzikadze
from Tbilisi
England and Georgia join the elite
Georgia celebrate a goal against Poland on Matchday 1 ©Badri Ketiladze
Published: Saturday 23 October 2010, 21.30CET

England and Georgia join the elite

After two wins and a draw apiece in Tbilisi, holders England and mini-tournament hosts Georgia have qualified for the UEFA European Under-17 Championship elite round.

England began the defence of their UEFA European Under-17 Championship title by advancing to the elite round as qualifying Group 3 winners along with hosts Georgia, second on goal difference.

Georgia, who included German-born 16-year-old Lucas Hufnagel in their starting lineup, defeated Poland 2-1 on Matchday 1. Hufnagel, whose mother is Georgian, said before the game he was "very proud" to be representing the mini-tournament hosts and showed no sign of nerves as Georgia ran out winners thanks to goals by Avto Endeladze and Bachana Arabuli. Hallam Hope, meanwhile, scored twice in England's 3-0 defeat of Sweden.

Sweden and Poland played out a goalless draw on Matchday 2, while Arabuli's brilliant strike cancelled out Hope's ninth-minute opener in a 1-1 stalemate between the top two. On the final day Guram Samushia's strike earned Georgia a 1-0 success against an obdurate Sweden team, and England defeated Poland by the same scoreline courtesy of Blair Turgott's 62nd-minute winner.

"I am very happy that we finished the qualifying round in first place," England manager John Peacock told UEFA.com. "We had good opponents in our group and I am especially pleased that we were stronger than all of them. I don't think the success of the hosts, who go through to the next round, was unjust; they deserved to come second. Georgia were a good side and they played with great confidence against us."

Georgia coach Koba Zhorzhikashvili added: "First of all I would say thanks to the fans; there were over 6,000 of them out there. Thanks also to the players, who did a great job and reached our goal. England are one of the best sides and we were a match for them, which means we can aim to reach the last eight."

Both nations will learn their elite round opponents when the draw is made on 30 November.

Last updated: 04/01/11 8.02CET

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