England overhaul Ireland to qualify

England recovered from an opening loss to the Republic of Ireland to pip their UEFA European Women’s Under-17 Championship elite round Group 2 hosts to the finals. While England now await the 28 April draw and the final tournament in Iceland, Ireland must wait to see if they end up as the runners-up with the best record against the sides first and third in their group.

Winners: England started with a 2-0 reverse to Ireland despite having the better chances and controlling the game, but they bounced back to beat Hungary 4-1 while the home nation drew 0-0 with the Netherlands. In today’s climactic matches, England overcame the Dutch 2-0 with an early goal by defender Carlotte Wubben-Moy and a late Georgia Stanway clincher; meanwhile Ireland finished 0-0 with Hungary to lose top spot.

Other performances: Ireland were hard-working and disciplined, not conceding a goal – a record which might yet take the 2010 runners-up to Iceland.

Key moment: The Netherlands were bossing and dominating their must-win second game against the Republic when captain Silvie van der Plas was sent off 12 minutes from time.

Star performer: English winger Taylor Hinds was a constant danger going forward, while Stanway controlled proceedings in midfield and Wubben-Moy commanded the defence with authority.

Reaction:
John Griffiths, England coach
In the first match against Ireland we had two or three chances very early on and didn’t convert them and Ireland were resilient, were strong and we struggled to break them down. Whereas today we got the first goal, which was good, and from then on we followed the game plan. We excuted it with some hard work during the first half, but Holland made it very difficult for us in the second half. It was testament to their work ethic – today wasn’t only about scoring goals, it was obviously about trying to stop them as well.

A lot of these players have not been in any sort of elite round, so we prepared well and there were a few nerves in the Ireland game – they played well, made it very difficult for us and we made it difficult for ourselves. But nothing changed after that game. We played our way, each player was chosen for doing a job and did that over the remaining two games. We knew what we needed to do.

Today we were keeping an eye on Ireland’s score. We knew that if we wanted to be best runners-up, we needed four goals, not two; we knew that while it was still 0-0 in Ireland’s game we had to keep doing what we were doing. The girls, and the staff, have worked incredibly hard over the last six months so we were prepared for the many scenarios this type of event can throw at you.

It’s going to be very tough, we’ve got good opponents in the next round. We’ve played Germany, France and Spain recently so we know what they’re about. The girls are well prepared, there is now minimal time between now and the finals, so what they have to do now is raise their level because those teams are going be 30% better in the next round. Nothing changes now, we’ll keep preparing for June.