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England make semi-finals as hosts Serbia fall

England 3-0 Serbia
Three goals in the first 19 minutes ended the home hopes and France's loss means England's win takes the holders into the semi-finals.

Bradley Smith (No3) is mobbed after opening the scoring for England
Bradley Smith (No3) is mobbed after opening the scoring for England ©Marko Djurić

Three goals in the first 18 minutes gave England victory against UEFA European Under-17 Championship hosts Serbia and took the holders into the semi-finals.

Bottom of Group A at kick-off, England destroyed home dreams early with a Bradley Smith strike and two from Hallam Hope. But they still needed France to fail to beat Denmark and Les Mini-Bleus duly fell to the group winners 1-0, meaning England face the Netherlands in Novi Sad on Thursday. Serbia, finishing fourth, miss out on the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico for which England have also qualified.

England had yet to reproduce their qualifying form in this final tournament but within nine minutes were two up in fantastic style. The opener from left-back Smith may have been intended as a cross but sailed past a surprised Nemanja Latinović. There was no doubting the intent of Hope's curling 20-metre strike two minutes later that gave the goalkeeper no chance.

Before the 20-minute mark Hope had another, turning in a cross from the right after fine work by Blair Turgott. Serbia had brought in Luka Stojanović, Vojno Ješić and Lazar Marković in an attacking reshuffle before kick-off and the last of those nearly reduced arrears, his lofted shot turned away by Jordan Pickford, before Nathaniel Chalaboh did well to intercept when the No7 broke through again. Serbia brought on Nikola Mandić to further bolster the attack while England lost Nicholas Powell to injury before the break.

Serbia also introduced Nikola Ninković at half-time and on 46 minutes Dejan Meleg's free-kick from a long way out on the right was tipped past the far post by Pickford. Ninković looped a header on to the crossbar and curled a shot wide late in the half but England could have been forgiven if their minds were on events in Novi Sad, where Denmark did them a favour.