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England oust Spain as U19 finals lineup complete

England knocked out holders Spain as they Austria, the Netherlands, Croatia and former champions Italy, Portugal and France joined hosts Germany in the 12 April finals draw.

Action from England's 2-0 elite round defeat of Spain
Action from England's 2-0 elite round defeat of Spain ©RFEF

England knocked out holders Spain as they, Austria, the Netherlands, Croatia and former champions Italy, Portugal and France joined hosts Germany in July's UEFA European Under-19 Championship finals, with the draw in Stuttgart on 12 April.

Group 1:
Group 2: Italy
Group 3: Austria
Group 4: Netherlands
Group 5: Croatia
Group 6: Portugal
Group 7: France
Hosts: Germany

Germany open the finals on 11 July at the home of VfB Stuttgart
Germany open the finals on 11 July at the home of VfB Stuttgart©Getty Images

Draw: 12 April, Stuttgart
Group stage: 11/12, 14/15, 17/18 July
Semi-finals & FIFA U-20 World Cup play-off: 21 July
Final: 24 July

• The four semi-finalists and the winner of a play-off between the two third-placed group finishers qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea from 20 May to 11 June next year. Holders Serbia will not qualify to defend their global title.

Elite round summary
Group 1: England
England ended the hopes of holders Spain, and the 2014 European U17 champions could yet become the first outfit to claim the more junior UEFA title and then the U19 crown two years later with the same generation of players. Hosting the group, Spain needed just a draw in the decider after both they and England had taken four points from Greece and Georgia. But two of England's 2014 U17 winners Joshua Onomah and Adam Armstrong secured a 2-0 victory to dethrone the Spanish.

  • Key player: Joshua Onomah (England, midfielder)

With four Premier League appearances under his belt for Tottenham Hotspur, Onomah scored the superb opener in England's crucial final-day success over Spain.

Italy were the last team to qualify
Italy were the last team to qualify©Getty Images

Group 2: Italy
Italy survived a late scare to book their place on goal difference ahead of Turkey. With both teams having beaten Switzerland and Israel in previous Group 2 games, all was riding on their final match in Caldogno. Italy, who had the superior goal difference heading into the match, went 2-0 in front through Andrea Favilli and Simone Edera with two minutes left. But quick-fire goals from Kubilay Kanatsizkuş and Berkay Özcan set up a dramatic conclusion, with Italy just holding on for the draw they needed to go through.

  • Key player: Giuseppe Panico (Italy, forward)

A wily striker who holds up the ball well and is constantly searching for gaps to burst into with his pace. Needs only half a sight of goal to get in a shot, and tends to find the target with it. Juventus defender Filippo Romagna also led by example as captain with his organisation and intelligent distribution.

Group 3: Austria
Hosts Austria dominated this section to reach their second straight final tournament. Having beaten Slovakia 3-1 and Romania 4-0, they saw off the Czech Republic 3-1 to ensure qualification, helped by their opponents finishing the game with eight men, the home side striking twice after the second sending-off.

  • Key player: Dominik Prokop (Austria, midfielder)

The man who made the breakthrough in Austria's pivotal triumph against the Czechs stood out throughout the group.

Group 4: Netherlands
The Netherlands were another host nation that progressed, getting the point they needed in a 0-0 last-day draw with Poland. Aron Winter's team had squeezed past Ukraine 3-2 with a 71st-minute penalty from midfield fulcrum Abdelhak Nouri, having earlier lost a two-goal lead, and Northern Ireland 1-0. It was the Netherlands' defence, marshalled by Manchester United's Timothy Fosu-Mensah and keeper Yanick van Osch, that proved their worth against Poland in the decider.

  • Key player: Steven Bergwijn (Netherlands, forward)

The PSV Eindhoven striker, who teed up Davy Pröpper for PSV Eindhoven's UEFA Champions League winner against CSKA Moskva on his five-minute competition debut in December, was strong, smart and incredibly fast – a constant menace to opponsing defences with his brilliant runs.

Croatia's Josip Brekalo
Croatia's Josip Brekalo©LAP.bg

Group 5: Croatia
Croatia caught the eye on home soil as they overcame Bulgaria 1-0 and Croatia 3-0 before prevailing 4-0 against a Belgium side who also went into the matchday three encounter on six points.

  • Key player: Josip Brekalo (Croatia, forwad)

Croatia's top marksman in this qualifying campaign was a real nuisance down the left flank, supplying his forward line with quality crosses. The Dinamo Zagreb youngster also contributed the assist that broke the deadlock in the all-important duel with Belgium.

Group 6: Portugal
Slovenia entered the final day of action in Portugal two points clear of the hosts having edged 2015 runners-up Russia 1-0 and Sweden 2-1. But the Portuguese – 4-0 conquerors of Sweden with the creative Buta outstanding before conceding in the last minute to draw 1-1 with Russia – quickly went two up against Slovenia and promptly triumphed 3-1.

  • Key player: Rúben Dias (Portugal, defender)

The highly-rated Benfica prospect, recently drafted into their squad for the UEFA Champions League trip to Zenit, held together the Portugal defence and also popped up with goals, including the opener against Slovenia, in his leadership role as captain.

Jean-Kévin Augustin
Jean-Kévin Augustin©Igor Lazervić

Group 7: France
Serbia's hopes of retaining their world title in 2017 are over despite them staging this pool – which France bossed from start to finish. The French sneaked past Montenegro 1-0 before seeing off Denmark 4-0. Kylian Mbappé's 41st-minute goal then earned France victory in front of 6,500 fans in Kragujavec against a Serbia side who ended with nine men, pipped to second place by Denmark.

  • Key player: Kylian Mbappé (France, forward)

The scorer against Serbia, who has tasted UEFA Europa League action this season with Monaco, was a powerful presence. Marcus Thuram – son of Lilian – and Jean-Kévin Augustin also impressed in attack.

Key facts
• France are the only one of last year's semi-finalists to qualify because winners Spain, runners-up Russia and 2015 hosts Greece all fell.

• Croatia are the least experienced U19 nation of the finalists having qualified for three of the 15 tournaments since this competition's reclassification from U18s in 2001/02.

• When the same generation played in the 2014 U17 finals in Malta, England ousted the Netherlands on penalties for the title having knocked out Portugal 2-0 in the last four. Germany departed in the group stage after a 1-0 loss to Portugal.

• Season top scorer: Ivan Šaponjić (Serbia) 6

• Elite round top scorers: Dominik Prokop (Austria), Kristian Veber (Denmark) 4

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