Spain and England have avoided defeat throughout their runs to the Under-17 final but that does not mean their routes to Tournai were all plain sailing.
Next came the Elite round and England travelled to Sarajevo to meet Bosnia-Herzegovina, Azerbaijan and Serbia in Group 3. A 5-0 win against the hosts got England off to the perfect start and against Azerbaijan they prevailed 1-0 despite a red card for Victor Moses. However, they needed to beat Serbia and were at 1-1 with just one minute left when Daniel Welbeck headed in. Spain hosted Group 7 and opened against Switzerland. A 14th-minute goal from the 2006 finals joint-top scorer Bojan Krkić was enough for three points. Sweden took an early lead two days later but Spain recovered to win 3-1 and Pichu's header proved sufficient for a 1-0 defeat of Poland to clinch qualification.
Once in Belgium, Spain were drawn in Group A and began with a 2-0 win against France in Verviers thanks to goals from Iago Falqué and Fran Mérida. Ignacio Camacho, Falqué and Daniel Aquino were on target in a 3-1 win against Ukraine before a late Segiy Shevchuk consolation in Vise. Spain were then able to rest several key players for the goalless draw with Germany that clinched first place.
England started Group B with a 2-0 victory against Iceland in Ronse courtesy of early Krystian Pearce and Daniel Rose goals. A win against Belgium in Tournai would have ensured early progress but Niels Ringoot cancelled out Rhys Murphy's first-half header. There was almost a repeat against the Netherlands in Tubize, as the Dutch came back to 2-2 after early goals from Henri Lansbury and Moses. It left England heading out but a deflected Moses goal soon after the equaliser early in the second half put them back on track before Tristan Plummer made it 4-2 in added time.
Belgium finished second behind the Netherlands and pushed Spain all the way by Belgium in their last-four fixture in Tournai. Eden Hazard shot that deflected in off Spain's David Rochela had given the hosts the lead but then Bojan produced a spectacular 71st-minute equaliser and the tie went to penalties. Spain missed their first spot-kick and Belgium seemed to be back on course for victory but Maurizio Aquino put what would have been the winning penalty over and with the score at 7-6 to Spain in sudden death David De Egea denied Dimitri Daeseleire.
It seemed England were comfortably headed for victory when they led 1-0 at half-time against France in Tubize through Moses. But a succession of injuries, most seriously Lansbury's tournament-ending concussion, allowed France back into the game but England held on to set up a rematch of October's encounter with Spain.