Germany and Scotland claimed first and second place in UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying round Group 5 with the minimum of fuss, each remaining unbeaten to hold off the challenges of Latvia and Belarus.
Germany secured a top-two finish with a game to spare after winning both their first two fixtures, starting with a 2-1 success against Belarus thanks to a goal in each half, Serge Gnabry getting the winner with a spectacular long-range effort. SV Werder Bremen striker Davie Selke was the undisputed star of the second fixture, scoring four times in a 5-0 defeat of Latvia in Minsk.
Scotland started with a 1-1 draw against Latvia – Ryan Gauld rescuing a draw with an added-time equaliser – but then took a significant step towards the elite round as Tom Walsh's fine pass set up Denny Johnstone for the only goal of a tight encounter against the mini-tournament hosts, who ended with ten men after captain Nikita Korzun collected a second yellow card late on.
Latvia therefore needed to beat Belarus to keep their hopes alive and, though they fulfilled their part of the bargain with a 2-1 victory, Scotland needed only a point to end Latvian hopes. Initially they looked on course for three as Johnstone gave them a second-minute lead that would have taken them into first place at Germany's expense, but Gnabry's leveller just past the hour meant they had to settle for second.
"We came to Belarus to get a ticket to the next round and we eventually did that," said Scotland coach Ricky Sbragia. "We didn't manage to beat Latvia, but the 1-0 win against Belarus was of great importance for us. Against Germany we had a good start, but had to defend really deep for the rest of the match. Germany were excellent and on the whole we're happy – it's a very young team. We're sure the elite round draw will be difficult, but this group was tough as well."
Germany's Marcus Sorg agreed, adding: "We fought in every game and created a lot of chances. I am satisfied with the quality of our play. The last game against Scotland was tough; they fought with their hearts and bodies. We played well and had ten great chances but only scored once, and we have to accept that. Our aim is to win the European Championship, and we have quite a strong team to hope for that."
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