England 1-0 Republic of Ireland
Marcus Edwards proved the matchwinner for the second time in three games as his stunner helped John Peacock's side top Group D.
Article top media content
• Marcus Edwards nets thrilling winner to help England top Group D
• Ireland finish bottom of section after failing to score in campaign
• Edwards also match winner in opening victory against Italy
• Result sets up an England quarter-final with Russia on Saturday
Marcus Edwards struck a stunner to help England see off the Republic of Ireland in Stara Zagora, a result which secured top spot in Group D for John Peacock's men and a UEFA European Under-17 Championship quarter-final with Russia.
After going undefeated in their first two games, the 2014 winners needed just a point to progress and it seemed that was all they would get as Ireland held out for long periods. However, Edwards curled into the top corner from outside the area in the 71st minute to wrap up first place for the Three Lions and send the Irish home.
The holders were in the ascendency in the first period, inspired by waspish Tottenham Hotspur FC playmaker Edwards. The No10 arced a free-kick a fraction wide and saw a low effort deflect centimetres off target, before his ideally weighted ball released Ike Ugbo to gallop free only for the forward to screw his low shot wide.
England's Nathan Holland stung the palms of Irish keeper Caoimhin Kelleher while Ugbo had another powerful attempt blocked by a defensive body on the line. Having drawn a blank in their two previous group matches, Ireland's best first-half opening came as Joshua Barrett thumped a back-post header from a corner narrowly wide.
Tom Mohan's Republic team shored up the holes at the back in the second period and the English chances dried up. In fact, England goalkeeper Paul Woolston was forced to make an outstanding point-blank save from Jonathan Lunney to keep the scores level after the No3 pounced on a rebound in the area. England toiled but could not find a way past Kelleher until a lightning turn from Edwards on the edge of the Ireland box saw him burst free from his marker and the 16-year-old curled his second of the finals into the top corner to win it.
John Peacock, England manager
[Ireland made us fight] like I expected. They're a very resilient group of players and a passionate nation. It was always going to be very tough. The longer the game was 0-0 it gave them some energy, but we should have scored long before we did. At the moment we're not finishing our chances as well as we should. It was a real tough game, but we came out of it with a lot of credit and positives.
It was an outstanding double save from Paul and then there was the finish from Marcus. Everyone would imagine him to be a totally left-sided player who if you get him on his right foot can't score, but that was an outstanding finish befitting of the game.
Thomas Mohan, Ireland manager
It was a brilliant effort from the boys, they always put that in, but England have some fantastic players. You have to hold your hand up and say the attacking threat they posed was very difficult [to contend with], although a number of our players did very well against that. We created chances, but in a game like that you have to take them because you know you're probably going to get less than England. I'm very proud of the players. Tonight tells the story of the week, not putting the ball in the back of the net – that's what football is all about. We just weren't clinical enough.