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Belgium edge England in Group 8 decider

With both teams through before kick-off, a late winner from Hannes Van der Bruggen earned Belgium a 2-1 victory against England and a place in the elite round as Group 8 winners.

Belgium celebrate their decisive win against England
Belgium celebrate their decisive win against England ©Berend Scholten

Belgium qualified for the UEFA European Under-19 Championship elite round as Group 8 winners after winning 2-1 on Matchday 3 against an England team who also progressed.

Both countries were safely through ahead of the meeting in Vise having each won their opening two games, against Albania and Cyprus respectively. England – who reached the last four at the 2009/10 finals in France three months ago – overwhelmed Albania 6-1 in their opener, while the mini-tournament hosts defeated Cyprus 4-1 thanks in part to two goals from Alessandro Cerigioni.

The same player was on target in a 2-0 defeat of Albania two days later, whereas Benik Afobe struck a hat-trick as England swept Cyprus aside 4-0. That set up a group decider which England started promisingly by striking the crossbar through Michael Ngoo. Belgium goalkeeper Koen Casteels then saved Jonjo Shelvey's seventh-minute penalty and, to cap a disappointing first half, Ross Barkley and Andre Wisdom departed on a stretcher after colliding with each other in added time.

After after a lengthy delay, Paul-José Mpoku finished off Cerigioni's through ball to put Belgium in front, though England looked to have earned the point which would have been enough for them to top the section when Ngoo equalised four minutes from time. There was more drama to come, however, as Hannes Van der Bruggen struck the winner two minutes later.

The focus of England coach Noel Blake at full time was on the wellbeing of Barkley and Wisdom rather than missing out on top spot. "At this moment I'm not so concerned about the result because my thoughts are with the two injured players about whom we don't know any details yet," he told UEFA.com. "In first half we dominated and had a lot of chances but after the incident we lost focus a bit."

His Belgian counterpart, Marc Van Geersom, said: "We wanted to win the group to get a better position in the elite round draw and we succeeded." Albania and Cyprus, who had Kostakis Artymatas dismissed late on, ended their campaigns with a point apiece after drawing 0-0 in Verviers.