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Bulgaria qualify from Group 2 unbeaten

Having already qualified for July's final tournament, Bulgaria ensured they finished the section unbeaten with a draw against Italy, while Sweden beat the Czech Republic.

Bulgaria had plenty to cheer about after qualifying for the final tournament with a game to spare
Bulgaria had plenty to cheer about after qualifying for the final tournament with a game to spare ©Ani Georgieva

Bulgaria qualified for July's UEFA European Under-19 Championship final tournament in Hungary with a game to spare before completing elite round Group 2 unbeaten with a draw against Italy.

Victories against Sweden and the Czech Republic in their first two matches guaranteed Bulgaria's place at the Group 2 summit and ensured they were the first nation to qualify from the elite round. Aleksandar Dimitrov's charges were denied a 100% record in the section by ten-man Italy on the final day, when Sweden wrapped up second spot with a win against the Czech Republic.

"Of course, I am very happy and delighted with the qualification for the final tournament in Hungary," coach Dimitrov told UEFA.com. "We played very well in the three games, the lads gave their best and now we can celebrate. It is a great achievement to reach the finals and we will do our best there. I have absolutely no wishes for our group opponents in the finals because all the teams will be very strong."

Group hosts Bulgaria began the elite round on 24 May with a 2-1 victory against Sweden thanks to a long-range Stanislav Dryanov strike and Borislav Tsonev's goal inside the opening 13 minutes. On the same day, the Czech Republic edged past Italy 1-0 with Daniel Holzer grabbing the only goal of the game after Italy's Dario Del Fabro was dismissed and Bryan Cristante missed from the spot.

The two winning sides from the opening round of matches met two days later when Bulgaria's Nikola Kolev and Antonio Vutov struck either side of a red card for Czech forward Jiří Sodoma. Bulgaria then had defender Plamen Galabov dismissed for a second yellow card before Patrik Schick failed to give Pavel Hoftych's charges a route back into the match from the penalty spot as Bulgaria held on to seal their early progress.

On the final day, ten-man Italy struck just two minutes after falling behind and having Del Fabro sent off to claim their first point and deny Bulgaria a perfect record, while Sweden bowed out in style beating 2011 runners-up Czech Republic 3-0 with all their goals coming in the opening 37 minutes.