England and the Republic of Ireland are through to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship elite round after wrapping up the top two spots in qualifying round Group 7.
John Peacock's England side finish top of the section with maximum points, having preserved their perfect record with an emphatic 6-0 victory against Ireland in today's final round of fixtures. That mattered not for Ireland, though, who end up three points clear of third-placed Armenia and six ahead of Gibraltar.
On the opening day of action, 2010 champions England – who have missed out on the finals two years running – showed their intent by defeating hosts Armenia 4-0 in Yerevan, Adam Armstrong chipping in with two. Gibraltar, making their U17 bow, took the lead against Ireland, George Wink getting his nation's first-ever goal in any UEFA competition. However, they went on to lose 4-1, Shane Elworthy only denied a hat-trick by a penalty save from Bradley Banda.
Two days later on Saturday, England continued to impress, this time scoring eight against Stephen Head's competition debutants. Armstrong struck two more, with Dominic Solanke also registering a double. Ireland, meanwhile, had efforts from Georgie Poynton and Jesse Devers to thank for a 2-0 triumph over Armenia. All that meant that England and Ireland were already assured of their progress by Tuesday's final day of qualifying, Peacock's side rubber-stamping first place in style. Wink found the net again but Gibraltar finish without a point after losing 2-1 to Armenia.
Just one more qualifying round mini-tournament is to be played, with Northern Ireland welcoming Latvia, Luxembourg and Turkey from 14 to 19 November. After those games the third-placed team with the best record against the leading pair in their group will join the 26 qualifiers and top seeds Germany – who received a bye – in the 28 November elite round draw. The seven eventual section winners in March join hosts Malta in the finals from 9 to 21 May.
Confirmed in elite round (25/28): Germany (bye), Romania, Albania, Italy, Sweden, France, Czech Republic, Scotland, Wales, Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Greece, England, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Norway, Iceland, Russia (holders), Netherlands, Georgia, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Belgium.
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