Holders England reached the finals of the UEFA European Under-17 Championship with a 2-1 victory against Spain in Mol.
Spain only needed a draw to eliminate England and enact revenge for their defeat in the final in Vaduz last year but Ginés Meléndez's men were beaten via an identical scoreline thanks to second-half goals by Nathan Redmond and Adam Jackson, Pablo Iñiguez scoring an added-time consolation.
Spain held the upper hand at the start of play on goal difference after both sides had triumphed in their opening two Group 5 contests and that slender advantage was maintained until the 55th minute. Then Raheem Sterling latched onto Hallam Hope's pass and provided a cross that Redmond was able to bend in to open the scoring.
John Peacock's charges opened up daylight seven minutes later when Jackson pounced after Hope's shot was parried by goalkeeper Alfonso Herrero. Iñiguez's reply came four minutes into added time - too late for the sole two-time U17 champions to mount a comeback. The result also means England draw level with Spain on eight finals appearances in the tournament's ten seasons.
"I do not think there are any real differences between tonight and last year's final," said Peacock. "It was an extremely tough game and it is a shame that we are not both in the finals. I admire Spain for their football ability and I have an enormous respect for their coach. Tonight we could not give anything away and I was pleased we kept playing and believing."
Meléndez's analysis was similar to his England counterpart. "It was a very balanced match," he said. "We made a mistake and until then England were not better than us. But if you make a mistake against a good team like England you lose. After the game I thanked all my players for their work. They are an excellent team and it is so sad they cannot go to the finals, but the players have a big future and they have grown a lot."
England goalscorer Redmond was delighted with the outcome and is relishing going to the finals in Serbia in May. "I was just waiting for the chance and it was great to have it and score. We have played against Germany and they are quite strong but Denmark also have a very good team. We could be one of the favourites but we just have to keep pushing and playing."
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|1||Jordan Pickford (GK)|
|1||Alfonso Herrero (GK)|
|2||Jordan Cousins||2||Oscar Arroyo|
|3||Bradley Smith||4||Carlos Garrido|
|4||John Lundstram||5||Ivan Saez|
|8||Saúl Ñiguez (C)|
|6||Nathaniel Chalobah (C)|
|9||Raul De Tomas|
|7||Raheem Sterling||10||Denis Suarez|
|9||Hallam Hope||14||Pablo Iñiguez|
|15||Samuel Magri||17||Gerard Deulofeu|
|13||Ben Garratt (GK)||13||David Vázquez (GK)|
|10||Max Clayton||3||Antonio Luque|
|12||Matthew Regan||7||Fede Vico|
|14||Adam Morgan||12||Sergio Menéndez|
|16||Alex Henshall||15||Iker Hernandez|
|18||Blair Turgott||16||Iker Undabarrena|
|John Peacock (ENG)||Ginés Meléndez (ESP)|
|Martin Strömbergsson (SWE)|
|Daniel Gustavsson (SWE), Tom Dens (BEL)|
|Yuri Cosco (BEL)|