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France through from elite round Group 1

France are celebrating having qualified for the Under-17 finals in Bulgaria following a 1-1 draw with Spain in which they played with ten men for much of the last 30 minutes.

Action from France against Israel on the opening day of elite round Group 1
Action from France against Israel on the opening day of elite round Group 1 ©Manuel Queimadelos

France have qualified for May's expanded 16-team UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Bulgaria after a 1-1 draw with section runners-up Spain on the final day of elite round Group 1.

Spain needed to win to overhaul their opponents at the top of the section, and their prospects of victory increased when Jean-Victor Makengo was dismissed 13 minutes into the second half for two bookings in quick succession. Trailing to Issa Samba's goal, Spain could only muster one of their own, through José Luis Zalazar, despite the numerical advantage.

Spain must wait to learn if they advance as one of the seven runners-up across the eight groups with the best record against the teams first and third in their section.


Winners: France. Les Bleus followed up a 1-0 victory against Israel with a thumping 7-1 defeat of Sweden in which substitute Nanitamo Ikone scored a second-half hat-trick. That left Jean-Claude Giuntini's side requiring only a draw against Spain, which they achieved despite the red card shown to Makengo.

Other performances: Runners-up Spain were solid defensively, conceding only one goal. They had beaten Sweden 2-0 and drawn 0-0 with Israel before their final-day encounter with France.

Star performer: Ikone for his 19-minute treble against a shell-shocked Sweden team. 

Jean-Claude Giuntini, France coach
"We are very happy to have qualified and about the progress we made during the games. The last match was very difficult. I liked the performance of my players, their behaviour and the attitude they displayed."