Spain got off to a good start in their bid to reach their first UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals in four years as they and Norway progressed from qualifying round Group 8 in Paphos, Cyprus.
The 2006 and 2007 winners were through after the opening two games, beating Moldova and Cyprus. Norway began the last day three points ahead of Moldova in second place but athough they lost 2-0 to Spain, Nicolae Bunea's side lost to Cyprus by the same scoreline.
"I am delighted to have taken maximum points from the group", said Spain coach Santi Denia. "My players did what they were told to do and they put in some great performances. Our toughest game was against Cyprus. They were fantastic and they outplayed us in the first half. So all the results were great and we look forward to the next round."
Denia's team made a solid start against Moldova, Asier Villalibre, Sergi Canós and Diego Altamirano scoring in the first 23 minutes in a 3-0 win. Norway overcame Cyprus 4-2 in the other opening fixture where the hosts led at half-time through a Pavlos Christodoulou penalty at half-time before Øyvind Nilsen's side battled back, Håkon Lorentzen scoring twice.
Norway were then held 1-1 by Moldova, Iurie Cebotari swiftly cancelling out Lorentzen's 16th-minute opener. Spain, meanwhile, faced a tough first half against Cyprus but eventually ensured progress thanks to Jorge Meré's goal after 69 minutes.
That result ensured a point would be enough for Norway against Spain regardless of the other result, but they lost to goals from Athletic Club forward Villalibre and Liverpool FC midfielder Canós. However, luckily for the Scandinavians, Cyprus – despite knowing they could not qualify even as the best third-placed team – defeated Moldova through first-half efforts by Andreas Fragkou and Foivos Christodoulou.
"I am really happy we qualified", said Norway coach Øyvind Nilsen. "The key match for us was against Cyprus because we knew they were a good side and so we were wary of them. We missed a host of chances to beat Moldova in our second game and against Spain we were beaten by the better side."
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