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England and Scotland are safely through to the Second Qualifying Phase of the UEFA Under-17 Championships after finishing in the top two of their respective qualifying groups last week.
England, runners-up in the competition last season, started confidently with a 7-1 victory over the Faroe Islands in their opening match. Remi Allen and Ellen White each scored twice with Claire Rafferty, Georgie Giddings and Brooke Chaplen rounding off the tally. Group hosts Lithuania were then crushed 10-0 with Allen going one better this time, the Leicester City midfielder bagging a hat-trick. Jess Clarke weighed in with two and the rout was finished off by Sophie Bradley, Sophie Walton, Toni Duggan, Lizzie Edwards and Rafferty. Despite the large victories, England actually needed to win their final game against Spain in order to finish top of the group, the final match finished goalless but qualification had already been assured and Tracey Kevins, standing in as Coach for Mo Marley who was in China for the World Cup, was satisfied with the job done overall.
Scotland meanwhile faced a long trip to the Ukraine for their group but any worries about the long journey were dispelled in their first game as they destroyed Armenia 13-0. Kim Little netted four times, Natalie Ross and Jennifer Beattie scored hat-tricks with one apiece from Christie Murray, Ruesha Littlejohn and substitute Hayley Lauder. This was followed up with another win, 3-0 against Azerbaijan, Beattie and Littlejohn putting the Scots two ahead in the opening twelve minutes and Murray rounding off the scoring midway through the second half. A point would guarantee Scotland top spot and they duly completed the task with a 2-2 draw against hosts Ukraine, although they needed their full powers of recovery to earn the point. Trailing 2-0 with twenty minutes remaining, goals from Rachel Corsie and Beattie ensured a happy trip home for Tony Gervaise's side.
However Wales were not so lucky as they were unable to come through a very tough group. Things started well as they defeated hosts FYR Macedonia 2-0 with late goals from Amie Lea and Natasha Harding but they were put on the back foot by a 3-2 defeat in their following match against the Czech Republic, fighting back from two down thanks to Shan Jones and an own goal before going down to a late strike. This left Wales needing to get something out of their final game against holders Germany and it was not to be, as a powerful German side ran out 7-0 winners to finish comfortably at the top of the group.
Likewise, Northern Ireland will have to wait another year as they never recovered from a disastrous first half in their opening game against Italy, who went on to win 7-0. A more encouraging result saw them go down 2-0 to group hosts Russia but they were unfortunate not to come home with a point after narrowly losing their final match 4-3 to Israel.
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