Greece will be back at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final tournament after seeing off the challenge of a determined Denmark team to win elite round Group 5.
Greece were runners-up in Austria in 2007 and this summer's finals will mark their third participation since then. The success of Kostas Tsanas' side was founded on a solid defence, with no goals conceded in each of their three outings – most crucially, the final-day decider against section hosts Denmark.
Per Andersen's Danes made the best possible start with a 6-2 win against Cyprus in which Frederik Helstrup Jensen (6, 66) and Viktor Fischer (78, 90+2) each scored twice. Cyprus captain Pieros Sotiriou also got two goals, but further strikes from Uffe Bech and substitute Nicolai Brock-Madsen assured Denmark of a comfortable victory. Greece, meanwhile, kept a clean sheet against Turkey and took the points thanks to goals from Charis Mavrias (90+3) and a Dimitris Diamantakos double (66, 75) – both signs of things to come.
Diamantakos was on target again as Greece beat Cyprus 3-0 in their second fixture, Kostas Stafylidis getting the other two goals, and Denmark also made it two wins from two with a 3-1 defeat of Turkey in Brondby. Brock-Madsen, a 32nd-minute substitute, opened the scoring within 60 seconds of his introduction and, though Patrick Olsen looked to have made the game safe (65), Hakan Calhanoglu's 87th-minute goal for Turkey set up a tense finale only resolved when Denmark captain Mads Pedersen scored from the penalty spot deep into added time.
That meant the hosts needed only a point against Greece to win the section on goals scored, yet they were left chasing the game when Giannis Gianniotas gave the Greeks a 47th-minute lead. Mavrias made it two ten minutes later and Greece held out to push Denmark down into second, one place ahead of Turkey, 5-0 winners against Cyprus in their final fixture.
After the game Greek coach Tsanas praised his team's spirit: "I think we deserved to win today and qualify for the final tournament," he said. "We knew that Denmark and Turkey would be strong opponents but I feel that we have a very strong team. I believe that we showed that today. This victory is a result of the strong bond between these players."
Meanwhile, Danish coach Andersen has announced he will step down from his role after 18 years in charge of the national U19 side.
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