Belgium came through a dramatic – and delayed – finale to UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship second qualifying round Group 1 to earn a finals debut.
The deciding games were originally scheduled for Tessenderlo and Beringen on 12 March, then moved to Genk the next day because of snow, only for the matches to be postponed again and rescheduled for this afternoon in their initial venues. Holders Germany, who trailed both Denmark and Belgium by a point, suffered a first-ever qualifying phase elimination as the hosts held them 0-0.
That result alone would not have sufficed for Belgium, but a late equaliser for the eliminated Netherlands against Denmark – in a 2-2 draw – meant the Danes were pipped by the home side on goal difference. Belgium go through to a 25 June Nyon semi-final against Poland or Austria, both competing at this stage for the first time, whose Group 2 decider was itself postponed on Sunday. In the other semi-final, Spain will take on the winners of Group 4, which begins next Tuesday.
After the opening day of the Belgian mini-tournament it all seemed straightforward for Germany as they surged to a 5-1 win against the Netherlands. Jasmin Sehan struck on six minutes and although Lisanne van Gurp levelled, the Germany No10 added two more after the break and Pauline Bremer chipped in with a couple late on. Denmark and Belgium drew 1-1, Lotte Aertsen scoring on 45 minutes and Marie Maj Madsen swiftly replying, with the hosts grateful for Diede Lemey's penalty save from Sarah Hansen.
Both those teams were to prevail two days later, Denmark overcoming the holders 2-1. Although Sehan netted in the fifth minute, in the last quarter-hour Hansen and Maja Kildemoes turned the game on its head to inflict Germany's first-ever qualification defeat in their 29th such fixture. Belgium, meanwhile, secured a goal difference advantage at the top, Noémie Gelders registering twice and substitute Amber Maximus making it 3-0 to end the Netherlands' hopes.
However, the Dutch were to have a big say on who did go through. Today they fell behind against Denmark to a third-minute Nicoline Sørensen goal after she pounced on a defensive slip, only for Laura Strik to equalise before half-time following a corner. Denmark substitute Lykke Thomsen restored their initiative, turning in Sørensen's cross with 19 minutes remaining, but as the match entered added time Jill Jamie Roord grabbed a point for the Netherlands. That sent Belgium, thanks to their goalless result against Germany, to Nyon.
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