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Estonia and Norway edge through in three-way tussle

Group 2 hosts Estonia and Norway came out on top in the first of the 13 UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying sections, edging out Scotland after the teams finished level on points.

Estonia and Norway progressed from Group 2
Estonia and Norway progressed from Group 2 ©AFP

Estonia and Norway became the first teams to reach the 2010/11 UEFA European Under-19 Championship elite round after dramatically edging out Scotland to win through from Group 2.

In the first of the 13 qualifying round groups, hosts Estonia made an ideal start against Norway as two goals from TuS Dornberg forward Aleksei Belov either side of half-time secured the points. Scotland, meanwhile, encountered few problems against Liechtenstein, James Keatings scoring three times in a 7-0 win.

Billy Stark's side came out on top again when the opening victors met on Matchday 2, Dale Hilson (37 minutes) and Callum McGregor (47) getting the goals despite a late reply from Estonian substitute Artur Rättel. Norway, meanwhile, revived their hopes by beating Liechtenstein 5-0, Mushaga Bakenga contributing a hat-trick.

Rättel was on target again in the final round of games, Estonia winning 3-0 against Liechtenstein. Scotland started the day three points clear in the standings but were up against it from the moment Fredrik Gulbrandsen gave Norway a 20th-minute lead. A game which featured two own goals eventually ended 4-2 to the Scandinavian side. Ørjan Hopen scored what proved to be the crucial final goal, his second of the game, with 13 minutes left.

That meant Estonia, Norway and Scotland all finished with six points, Estonia finishing first and Norway second thanks to their record in games between the three sides. "We got a good group and I was sure we could beat Liechtenstein and take points off Norway and Scotland," Estonia head coach Fran Bernhardt told UEFA.com. "The first match was the most important. I'm glad to say we are not a small football country anymore. In a few years, I believe my guys will be able to take our national team to the European championship."

Norway coach Bård Flovik was equally jubilant, telling UEFA.com: "We're so happy. We were in a bad situation before the last match so we had to do a great job preparing for it. We believed we could win and we did, even though Scotland are very tough opponents. I congratulate Estonia; we're really surprised by their performance, especially in our match. But this time we're happy at being the team who qualified second."