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After playing the role of impact substitute to perfection against Georgia, Dejan Meleg said that Serbia could afford to relax a little having qualified for the UEFA European Under-19 Championship semi-finals with a game to spare.
Meleg entered the fray in the 62nd minute of Tuesday's 1-0 win in Marijampole, his goal 12 minutes later settling the contest in Serbia's favour. That triumph followed an opening Group B victory against Turkey and meant Ljubinko Drulović's side became the first to reach the last four in Lithuania.
"It was very important for us to win that game and afterwards I said a big thank you to my team-mates and the technical staff for their efforts in getting us through," the FK Vojvodina midfielder told UEFA.com. "We played very well in both halves [against Georgia] and were very happy afterwards. We can afford to relax a little bit ahead of the next game against France, an encounter we are looking forward to."
Serbia's recent U19 record makes for impressive reading with the country now having reached their third semi-final since 2009. For Meleg, team spirit plays an important role when it comes to analysing that success. "As always, there is a good atmosphere [within the group]," he said. "Without that you cannot achieve good results in this tournament.
There is always a lot of fun, a lot of joking around between us and that's what makes the team stronger; it's something that has always been important for me and for my team-mates."
Part of the Serbia side that suffered group stage elimination at the 2011 European U17 Championship on home soil, Meleg is happy to have made amends at what he described as "an important tournament".
"For me it is always a big honour to play for my country," he explained. "The U19 finals produces great players like Fernando Torres and others. Right now I only want to concentrate on this competition and playing for my country."
Prior to Serbia discovering their last-four fate, an encounter against Francis Smerecki's second-placed France awaits. "After that game, our technical team will make a good video analysis of whoever we meet and we will try to find a way to beat them," he said. "I hope we can do our best in the semi-finals and then, who knows?"
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