The Netherlands and Ukraine eased into the UEFA European Under-17 Championship elite round after filling the top two places in Group 11.
Albert Stuivenberg's Netherlands secured their progress early after winning the first two games of the qualifying round mini-tournament held in San Marino. They opened with a 1-0 win against Latvia in Serravalle, Memphis Depay's 21st-minute strike the difference between the sides. On the same day Ukraine won by the same margin against the hosts, half-time substitute Dmytro Khlyobas scoring the winner in the 48th minute.
On Matchday 2, Ukraine and Latvia could not be separated in a goalless draw allowing the Jong Oranje to pull clear at the top of the group with a 6-0 victory against San Marino. Depay struck three times in the first half as the Netherlands went into the break five goals to the good, Anass Achahbar also finding the target twice. Thomas Horsten added another seven minutes after the restart, and although that was the end of the scoring, the victory was enough to guarantee the 2009 runners-up a top-two finish.
Going into the last set of fixtures, Latvia and Ukraine were both in contention to claim that second automatic spot. Aided by Edgars Potapenko's penalty save to deny Giacomo Maria Guerra five minutes from time, Latvia ran out 2-0 winners against San Marino following a 27th-minute penalty from Dāvis Ikaunieks and a Ēriks Punculs effort soon after.
Olegs Blagonadeždins' side therefore needed Ukraine to lose to the Netherlands and that result looked on the cards when Vladlen Yurchenko put through his own net on six minutes. Stuivenberg's stylish outfit were on top with Adnan Bajic showing his class in central midfield, but Ukraine captain Yurchenko made amends for his earlier lapse when he levelled in the 48th minute. The Netherlands had Kyle Ebecilio sent off soon after and Ukraine sealed the point they needed to progress. Latvia will now hope to progress as one of the two third-placed teams with the best record against the leading pair in their group.
The result left Stuivenberg moderately satisfied with his team's work. "In the end, we are pleased. We wanted to get nine points, but we are still happy with seven. The red card was disappointing. He is young and has made a mistake, but even more experienced players make this kind of error."
Despite finishing bottom with no points, San Marino coach Joseph Berardi was content his players had progressed, saying: "I'm proud of my team and of the way we prepared and how we matured."
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