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Late Mandić winner takes Serbia through

Serbia 1-0 Bulgaria
Staniša Mandić's 90th-minute goal earned three points for Veljko Paunović's holders and took them above Ukraine in Group B.

Serbia celebrate after Staniša Mandic (right) scored the winner
Serbia celebrate after Staniša Mandic (right) scored the winner ©Sportsfile

A last-minute Staniša Mandić goal took Serbia through to the last four of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship as a narrow win against Bulgaria proved enough to pip Ukraine to second place in Group B. 

• Mandić's 90th-minute effort earns first Serbian win
Defeat for Ukraine allows Paunović's men to progress
Bulgaria end with three losses from three
Serbia v Portugal; Germany v Austria in Monday's semi-finals

Knowing they had to win to keep alive their chances after opening with two draws, Serbia were immediately on the front foot and passed up a chance to go ahead in the opening moments when Luka Jović rolled wide of an open goal after Bulgaria keeper Aleksandar Lyubenov misjudged a long ball.

Georgi Minchev's header forced a good save from Serbia No1 Predrag Rajković, but it was Lyubenov who was the busier goalkeeper, denying Mijat Gačinović and Danilo Pantić before saving at the feet of Jović after the forward cut into the area.

With their hopes of progressing receding with every passing minute, Serbia upped the tempo in the second period, Marko Grujić thundering an effort wide from outside the area. Gačinović was denied again by Lyubenov and it looked like it was not to be when the No8 missed a glaring opening from eight metres with 18 minutes left.

However, the holders eventually found a way through when a long ball from substitute Milan Jokić allowed Mandić to outstrip the defence and the forward made no mistake with only the keeper to beat. Serbian players collapsed to the floor at the final whistle through a mix of relief and exhaustion, but they will be doing it all again in three days' time, with Portugal awaiting in the last four.

Coach Veljko Paunović feared it would not be Serbia's night
Coach Veljko Paunović feared it would not be Serbia's night©Sportsfile

Veljko Paunović, Serbia coach
We are ecstatic. We have reached our first goal. We are going to the World Cup and we are in the semi-final. We are more than happy. These guys have given it their all, and that is what it takes to be a national player for Serbia. We have to try our hardest, we have to play until the very end and to represent our country, our style of football. We have managed to do that today against a very good Bulgarian side.

Aleksandar Dimitrov, Bulgaria coach
I am sick and tired of playing these kinds of games and losing in the end. We have our opportunities, we have our chances, but in the end we come out empty handed. The same thing happened against Ukraine. We have problems in attack, especially at finishing. We were missing our best forward in Borislav Tsonev, which was obviously insurmountable for this team. It is just not enough to have a big heart. Once more we have learned that without scoring you cannot win.