Belgium pip Hungary to finals berth

Belgium have finished top of UEFA European Under-17 Championship elite round Group 7, just pipping mini-tournament hosts Hungary to a finals spot on goal difference.

Belgium celebrate beating Wales
©Peter Murphy

Belgium pipped Hungary to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship from elite round Group 7.

Going into the final day, mini-tournament hosts Hungary led Belgium on goal difference with Russia just a point adrift. Belgium raced to a 3-0 win against Wales but Hungary produced a dramatic 3-2 defeat of Russia. However, Belgium were to go through on goal difference as their 1-0 win against Russia was turned into a 3-0 victory due to their opponents fielding an ineligible player.

In Tatabanya, Belgium had hopes throughout of qualifying against Wales after Leander Dendoncker's cross was headed in by Tuur Dierckx in the 32nd minute. On the hour Louis Gray parried a stinging long-range effort by Frederik Spruyt only for Dierckx to turn in from close range. Soon after a carbon copy was provided, made by Siebe Schrijvers and finished by Pierre Biscotti.

A fine Zsombor Berecz strike and a calm cool finish from Gergely Bobál either side of half-time put Hungary in the driving seat against Russia in Telki before Aleksei Turik pulled one back and Danila Yaschuk levelled with three minutes to go. It was Zoltán Farkas who settled matters, though, tapping in from close range following a surging run from captain Dávid Asztalos. It looked to be enough to qualify, but their final hopes were dashed.

Russia, the 2006 champions, were on top after the opening day, beating Wales 2-1 with substitute Arshak Koryan scoring a late winner five minutes after coming on. Gethyn Hill had cancelled out Yaschuk's opener. Dendoncker put Belgium ahead against Hungary but László Tóth levelled. Benjamin Van den Ackerveken was then dismissed and Márió Németh gave the hosts the advantage on the stroke of half-time only for Joren Dehond to make it 2-2 early in the second period.

Two days later Hungary defeated Wales 5-1, a Bobál hat-trick the key. However, it is Belgium who go into the final draw at 16.00CET on 4 April in Ljubljana, with the tournament in Slovenia running from 4 to 16 May. Germany, France, Iceland, Poland and holders the Netherlands have also already booked their berths alongside the home nation.