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Meleg sinks Georgia to secure Serbia passage

Serbia 1-0 Georgia
Ljubinko Drulović's men secured a place in the semi-finals after Dejan Meleg struck the only goal in Marijampole to see off their Group B challengers.

Meleg sinks Georgia to secure Serbia passage
Meleg sinks Georgia to secure Serbia passage ©GFF

Serbia booked their passage into the UEFA European Under-19 Championship semi-finals as they made it two wins from two in Marijampole – but had to work hard against a Georgia side who must win their final game and hope results go their way to progress.

Substitute Dejan Meleg struck the only goal with 16 minutes remaining to secure the points and a place in the last four, but things could have been different had Bachana Arabuli's 88th-minute effort not come back off the woodwork. Stranded on one point from two matches, Georgia go into their final Group B game with Turkey on Friday hoping a victory will be enough to take them through with Serbia.

After an opening success against Turkey, Ljubinko Drulović's men knew a win would qualify them but it was Georgia, who themselves impressed in a draw with France, that threatened first. With three minutes on the clock Avto Endeladze whipped a low free-kick into the area but captain Arabuli directed the ball narrowly wide as Serbia breathed a sigh of relief.

Petar Golubović had a shot blocked in response before Gabriel Tebidze showed his quality in the Georgian goal as he kept out Uroš Djurdjević's stinging 12th-minute drive. Serbia No1 Predrag Rajković was forced into action to foil Giorgi Pantsulaia's attempt while back at the other end Aleksandar Filipović missed the target five minutes before the interval.

Sergej Milinković-Savić should have done better after the restart but blasted off target after a delightful lay-off from Aleksandar Mitrović, yet Serbia were getting closer and on 65 minutes almost broke through – Mitrović heading Nemanja Maksimović's pinpoint right-wing cross straight at Tebidze. The winner came nine minutes later as a rapid counterattack isolated three defenders against three on-rushing forwards and Mitrović lobbed a pass into the path of Meleg who rifled home.

Serbia survived a late fright when Arabuli's free-kick rattled the bar with Rajković well beaten, but they hung on to strengthen their U19 title credentials.