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Sweden and Slovakia progress with draw

Sweden 0-0 Slovakia
There were celebrations from both sides at the final whistle in Zilina as the Group A debutants each qualified for the last four.

Sweden and Slovakia progress with draw
Sweden and Slovakia progress with draw ©UEFA.com

A goalless draw sparked scenes of jubilation from both teams at the final whistle, as a point ensured Sweden and Slovakia progressed to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship semi-finals on their tournament debuts. 

They have been locked together at the top of the section since opening their respective campaigns with wins, and that continued in Zilina, where a draw ensured both advanced ahead of Austria and Switzerland.

The blank scoreline, however, was not for the want of trying, but the result means hosts Slovakia finish as pool winners and face the Group B runners-up in Zilina on Tuesday. Sweden play the top team in the other section on the same day.

With the vast majority of the boisterous 7,000 fans inside the arena backing Slovakia, their enthusiasm understandably rubbed off on Ladislav Pecko's team. Teed up by Nikolas Špalek, captain Lukáš Haraslin tested Sixten Mohlin in the Sweden goal, though Slovakia's No1, Martin Junas, had to be equally alert to divert Elias Andersson's free-kick to safety. Mohlin then denied Filip Lesniak and Tomáš Vestenický in quick succession before the break.

Sweden took the initiative after the interval, but failed to make any use of it, and with Slovakia's fast wingers ready to punish any mistakes, they had to watch their backs. Pecko sent on his super-sub, Martin Slaninka, who scored from the bench in the previous two games, early in the second half, but even he could not find a way to beat Mohlin. Sweden continued to pose a danger from set pieces, with skipper Andersson firing in a long-distance free-kick which Junas repelled.

As the seconds ticked towards the 80-minute mark the tension became palpable, and both sides sat deeper and deeper to ensure late heartbreak was not on the cards. The tension was finally broken with the final whistle, which sparked scenes of joy in the stands and on the pitch as the fairytale continues for both sides.