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England are off to next year's FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup Finals after beating Scotland 2-0 to finish in fifth place at the UEFA Under-19 Championship finals.
Goals from Zoe Cross and Mollie Rouse were enough to seal victory in the play-off, making England the fourth and final European side to qualify for the World Cup. They had been pipped to a place in the semi finals by France but, with the victors hosting the 2019 World Cup, a play-off was required to determine which of the two groups' third placed sides would take the final qualification berth.
That meant a meeting with the Auld Enemy in Lurgan, where Mo Marley's side quickly moved into the ascendancy. Kirsty Hanson had hit the post at the other end shortly beforehand but the deadlock was broken on 28 minutes when Cross smashed home after Megan Finnigan had nodded down Alessia Russo's corner.
The lead was doubled five minutes into the second half when midfielder Rouse tapped in after Finnigan's shot had been blocked by Scotland goalkeeper Rebecca Flaherty.
Meanwhile in the semi finals, it was a good day for the respective group runners-up as they both recorded victories to set up something of a surprise Final, albeit a repeat of last year's.
Spain emerged as 3-2 victors from a thrilling game at Windsor Park against Holland, who were unable to match the achievement of their senior side earlier this month. The first half ended goalless but within three minutes of the restart, both teams had found the net with Lucia Garcia giving Spain the lead and Victoria Pelova equalising a minute later. Maite Oroz then restored Spain's lead and a breakaway goal from Patricia Guijarro put them two goals ahead. Joelle Smits gave the Dutch late hope as she pulled one back but Spain held on to ensure they reached their fourth successive Final, having lost each of the last three.
France meanwhile staged a second half fightback to win 2-1 against Germany in the other semi final, also at Windsor Park. The Germans had gone into the game sporting a 100% record and looked to be on their way to another success when Klara Buhl gave them the lead five minutes before half time but after the break, substitutes Julie Thibaud and Emelyne Laurent both scored in a four minute spell to turn the match around in France's favour to take them to within one step of retaining the trophy and a fifth success overall.
Photos from www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Alessia Russo slides in to tackle Ellis Dalgliesh
(bottom) England celebrate after Zoe Cross (10) gives them the lead
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