Switzerland are through to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship final tournament thanks to a final-day defeat of two-time trophy winners Spain in Russia.
The Swiss, who came bottom of their group at the 2013 finals in Slovakia, started the last round of fixtures level on points with Spain ahead of their meeting in Kazan. With the game goalless and 2013 champions Russia – 2-0 victors over Wales today – therefore heading through, Switzerland found a breakthrough via Harun Alpsoy five minutes from time. It proved sufficient for Yves Débonnaire's side, who finished two points clear atop the section.
Débonnaire has previously been at the helm for Switzerland's U17s finals appearances in 2008 and 2005, as well as their U16 campaigns in 2001 and 1999. His latest crop began elite round Group 1 with a 1-0 success against Wales, substitute Boris Babic striking the decisive blow with three minutes remaining. Spain, meanwhile, went in front against Russia through Antonio Madger but had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
The holders' second outing, against Switzerland, ended with the same scoreline. This time the Swiss left it even later to find the net, recovering from the 61st-minute dismissal of Alban Selmanaj – and subsequent opener from the hosts' captain Daniil Yamschikov – to earn a point through Albian Ajeti's effort two minutes into added time. Spain's 1-0 triumph over Wales, secured courtesy of Jorge Meré's goal with nine minutes left, meant that everything rested on Monday's action.
Russia looked to be on the brink of making it through by virtue of their head-to-head record in a three-way tie with the Spanish and Swiss – until Switzerland's seemingly customary late conjuring trick. Expect drama in Malta in May.
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