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Perfect Spain surge through to finals

Spain became the first side through to next month's finals along with hosts England after topping elite round Group 1, with the Republic of Ireland facing a wait to see if they will also qualify.

Spain captain Nahikari García
Spain captain Nahikari García ©UEFA.com

Spain became the first team to join hosts England in next month's UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship finals after posting a perfect record of three wins from three games in elite round Group 1.

Going into the final day, Spain held a three-point lead over opponents Iceland and the Republic of Ireland, and they made sure of top spot by toppling Ulfar Hinriksson's Iceland side 3-1. That secured a spot for Jorge Vilda's charges in the 24 October finals draw in Burton-upon-Trent, with second-placed Ireland facing a wait to find out if they will also go through as the runners-up with the best record.

Hoping to win back the trophy they claimed in 2010 and 2011, Spain won a rematch of the first of those finals as they beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1, Andrea Sánchez and Maria del Pilar scoring in the opening 33 minutes before Jenny Clifford swiftly pulled a goal back. Iceland fell behind against mini-tournament hosts Romania to Beata Ambruș's goal early in the second half, but Hulda Osk Jonsdóttir scored on 57 and 71 minutes to seal a 2-1 victory.

That was also the scoreline by which Ireland defeated Iceland two days later, Sarah McKevitt and Megan Connolly on target either side of half-time before Esther Ros Arnarsdóttir's late penalty. Spain eased to an 8-0 win against Romania, meanwhile, captain Nahikari García getting a hat-trick for the two-time winners.

On the final day, Spain then ensured top spot by defeating third-placed Iceland 3-1, Laura Domínguez opening the scoring on 52 minutes and a double from Nahikari García making sure of the success after Hulda Hrund Arnarsdóttir had equalised. The section winners thus signed off with the most prolific attack in the group and the meanest defence.

In the other game, Ireland made light work of bottom team Romania, triumphing thanks to efforts from Jessica Gargan, McKevitt and Megan Lynch as well as a Kinga Barabasi own goal. David Connell's charges will find out if they will also be involved in the finals – as the runners-up with the best record against the teams first and third in their group – once all six sections are complete in a couple of weeks' time.