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Belgium oust Croatia on penalties to reach last four

Croatia 1-1 Belgium (Belgium win 5-3 on pens)
Belgium kept their nerve to progress to the semi-finals, Jens Teunckens making the only save of the shoot-out to send the Red Devils through.

Highlights: Belgium-Croatia penalty drama
Highlights: Belgium-Croatia penalty drama

Belgium defeat Croatia on penalties, Nikola Moro the only player who fails to convert
Karlo Majić expertly flicks in the opening goal late in the first half
Ismail Azzaoui equalises – the first goal Croatia have conceded in 577 minutes
Belgium play France or Italy in the last four; Croatia head into FIFA U-17 World Cup play-off

Belgium are through to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship semi-finals after defeating Croatia 5-3 on spot kicks in Burgas.

Croatia had been heading for victory until Ismail Azzaoui cancelled out Karlo Majić's first-half opener. With no extra time, the contest went straight to penalties, where Jens Teunckens's save from Croatia captain Nikola Moro proved decisive. 

With a place in the last four at stake, not to mention a direct berth in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, it was perhaps no surprise that the opening exchanges were characterised by caution. Gradually, though, things opened up, Josip Brekalo trying his luck with a shot that flew wide of the near post. At the other end, Lennerd Daneels' delivery dropped to Christophe Janssens, whose effort was blocked. Dennis Van Vaerenbergh fired the loose ball straight at Adrian Šemper.

A brilliant piece of improvisation broke the impasse. Brekalo's corner was headed by Rubin Seigers as far as Davor Lovren lurking outside the penalty area. Though the right-winger connected cleanly, his low shot was arrowing wide until GNK Dinamo Zagreb club-mate Majić adroitly flicked the ball past Teunckens.

With Croatia having kept six successive clean sheets going into the match, the question now was: how would the Red Devils prise them apart? Dario Bašić's team twice tested Teunckens at the start of the second period, Branimir Kalaica seeing a header tipped over and Lovren having a strike kept out by the keeper's legs after tricking his way past two players near the byline.

Croatia's hitherto rock-solid defence cracked, however, after 53 minutes. Kalaica failed to deal with Matisse Thuys's long, straight pass and Azzaoui, onto the lapse in flash, raced through to clip past his third goal of the finals past Šemper.

Further disappointment followed for Croatia when Majić went off with a leg injury and was driven from the stadium in an ambulance. Šemper then kept them in it by tipping Dante Rigo's drive over the bar, before Majić's replacement Matko Babić lobbed wide. Croatia, so impressive in winning Group A, then faltered on penalties, Belgium holding their nerve after Teunckens kept out Croatia's first effort of the shoot-out. 

Croatia players show their dejection after losing on penalties
Croatia players show their dejection after losing on penalties©LAP.bg
Croatia goalkeeper Adrian Šemper is beaten during the penalty shoot-out
Croatia goalkeeper Adrian Šemper is beaten during the penalty shoot-out©LAP.bg
Belgium midfielder Alper Ademoglu celebrates after converting from the spot
Belgium midfielder Alper Ademoglu celebrates after converting from the spot©LAP.bg
Croatia goalscorer Karlo Majić receives treatment for a leg injury – he later went to hospital
Croatia goalscorer Karlo Majić receives treatment for a leg injury – he later went to hospital©LAP.bg
Croatia celebrate Karlo Majić's first-half opener in Burgas
Croatia celebrate Karlo Majić's first-half opener in Burgas©LAP.bg