Russia cruised into the UEFA European Under-19 Championship finals with three wins from three in elite round Group 3 in Sweden to advance ahead of Belgium.
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Russia eased into the finals of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Greece, winning all three games in elite round Group 3 to qualify ahead of Belgium.
Made up of a core of players who lifted the U17 continental crown in 2013, Dmitri Khomukha's side conceded just once and found the net ten times across the three matchdays as the Belgians, Lithuania and hosts Sweden were all put to the sword.
Qualification was sealed after two outings, the Russians kicking off with a 1-0 success against Belgium; Rifat Zhemaletdinov settled matters in sensational style, burying a stunning overhead kick from the edge of the box on 78 minutes. Zhemaletdinov carried that form into matchday two, scoring twice more in a 6-0 triumph over Lithuania in which Ramil Sheydaev also registered twice.
Sheydaev took his elite round total to four in today's 3-1 victory against Sweden in Norrkoping which clinched a 100% record for Russia across both preliminary groups – qualifying and now elite. After their opening-day defeat last Thursday, Belgium saw off Sweden 2-0 on Saturday before drawing 2-2 with Lithuania, whose pair of draws assured them of third position, above the Swedes.
"I'm delighted we've been successful with our playing style and that our tactical work is bearing fruit. I'm absolutely certain this will be a great U19 tournament with very strong opponents," said winning coach Khomukha.
"We have come a long way with these lads and we know how to win important matches. We have a winning mentality thanks to our previous participations in the European finals and in the [FIFA U-17] World Cup.
"Zhemaletdinov's goal [against Belgium] was quality. But we're used to goals like that because we got them in the U17 qualifiers as well. It's great that Zhemaletdinov took responsibility in a tough game and scored that goal."