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Serbia see off Group 3 hopefuls

Published: Wednesday 30 May 2012, 19.39CET
Serbia have plenty of UEFA European Under-19 Championship pedigree and reached the final tournament again at the expense of Germany, Romania and Hungary.
by Ivan Vjetrović
Serbia see off Group 3 hopefuls
Serbia celebrate reaching the UEFA European Under-19 Championship ©Dejan Vuković
Published: Wednesday 30 May 2012, 19.39CET

Serbia see off Group 3 hopefuls

Serbia have plenty of UEFA European Under-19 Championship pedigree and reached the final tournament again at the expense of Germany, Romania and Hungary.

Serbia's fine UEFA European Under-19 Championship record continued as they held off Germany and Romania to claim first place in Group 3.

Semi-finalists in two of the last three seasons, an unbeaten record in their elite round section on home soil ensured Zoran Marić's side of another finals appearance – although Serbia were frustrated by Germany in their first fixture. The section hosts led twice in Novi Sad, through Nikola Ninković (20) and Aleksandar Mitrović, who struck three minutes after his 57th-minute introduction, yet a pair of equalisers from Philipp Hofmann (48) and Nico Schulz (84) meant they had to settle for a draw.

With 2011 finals hosts Romania opening in emphatic fashion by way of a 4-0 defeat of Hungary, Serbia and Germany were both left trying to make up ground on matchday two, yet instead the latter fell further off the pace. Hofmann looked to have given them the points when he finally broke the deadlock against Romania in the 87th minute, yet within three minutes Alexandru Ioniţă had levelled and the game ended all square despite Romania captain Nicolae Stanciu's red card deep in added time.

Serbia also struck late against Hungary, although they managed to cling on to the advantage afforded them by Ninković's 86th-minute goal to join Romania on four points ahead of the teams' meeting in the final fixture. Germany kept up the pressure with 3-0 victory against a Hungary side who played for more than an hour with ten men after Ádám Lang's dismissal.

That meant victory for either side in Novi Sad would take them into the finals, but Romania were up against it from the moment Adrian Puţanu was shown a straight red card in the 12th minute, although Ninković missed the resulting penalty. Bogdan Vătăjelu was brought on in the 32nd minute but seven minutes later he too was dismissed for a foul on Stefan Dimić and this time Mitrović made no mistake from the spot. Ninković added a second on the stroke of half-time, and 13 minutes from time Mitrović's second penalty wrapped up a place in next week's finals draw after Alin Roman's red card had left Romania with eight men.

Last updated: 04/06/12 21.43CET

Related information

http://www.uefa.com/under19/news/newsid=1795144.html#serbia+group+hopefuls

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