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Belgium clinch progress but knock out Slovenia

Slovenia 0-1 Belgium
An 83rd-minute header from Dennis Van Vaerenbergh confirmed the qualifying fate of both these Group B teams, with Slovenia out.

Belgium goalscorer Dennis Van Vaerenbergh (second left) celebrates his winner against Slovenia
Belgium goalscorer Dennis Van Vaerenbergh (second left) celebrates his winner against Slovenia ©Sportsfile

Belgium confirm second place in Group B with narrow win that eliminates Slovenia
Dennis Van Vaerenbergh settles close contest deep into second-half stoppage time
Anderlecht defender Wout Faes suspended for Belgium
Slovenia could have qualified with a 3-0 victory
Quarter-finals: Croatia v Belgium; Spain v Germany (15 May)

Belgium left it late to edge a tense last-day showdown with Slovenia and advance to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship quarter-finals as Group B runners-up.

With section winners Germany dispatching the Czech Republic in the other game, Bob Browaeys' team needed only a draw in Burgas today, yet against opponents who themselves required a three-goal victory, the Belgians rubber-stamped their progress thanks to Dennis Van Vaerenbergh's header three minutes into second-half stoppage time.

Given both sides still stood a chance of extending their stay in Bulgaria, the first half proved a tight affair, with the Belgians' cautious approach occasionally enlivened by dangerous attacks. Slovenia captain Jan Mlakar led the way for Igor Benedejčič's men, taking every available shooting opportunity, though the brightest moments came when Orel Mangala and Van Vaerenbergh forced saves from Slovene keeper Rok Vodišek, before Matthias Verreth fired a free-kick agonisingly wide.

There were even more nerves on show after half-time. While Van Vaerenbergh caught an early sight of goal, Slovenia carved out an excellent opening which Mlakar missed from Timi Elšnik's corner. That heralded a spell of Slovene pressure which culminated in Elšnik firing off target. Belgium's No9 showed them how it should be done in the 83rd minute, nodding in Jorn Vancamp's left-wing delivery.

Bob Browaeys, Belgium coach

We are delighted because we have achieved our goal of getting to the quarter-finals. I have to congratulate my players on their six points and for not conceding in the last two matches. Of course, you are also happy when you score in the last minute of a game. I should applaud Slovenia as well, because it's great that they can produce such players despite being a smaller country than Belgium. They didn't deserve to lose all three matches 1-0.

Igor Benedejčič, Slovenia coach
It is always tough to concede a goal in the very last second of the game. But I can only congratulate the players on their performances and I am sure they will be much stronger and experienced after this tournament. It is vital for their development to go through all this. We threw everything at Belgium, but unfortunately we conceded that late, late goal.