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Scotland U17s reach Euro semi-finals

Thursday, 15 May 2014


UEFA European Under-17 Championship Finals
Switzerland 1-3 Scotland
Thursday, 15th May 2014, kick-off 6pm (local time)
Hibernians Ground, Paola

Oberlin 20; Wighton 45, Sheppard 56, Hardie 63

Scotland Under-17s produced a stunning second-half performance to defeat Switzerland 3-1 and seal a place in the semi-finals of the UEFA European Under-17 Championship.

Scot Gemmill’s side went into tonight’s match requiring at least a point to advance to the last four of the tournament being held in Malta and were a goal down at half time after Dimitri Oberlin struck on 20 minutes.

However, goals from Craig Wighton, Jake Sheppard and Ryan Hardie plus a penalty save by Robby McCrorie in the second half completed a remarkable turnaround.

Scotland will face the Netherlands in Sunday’s semi-final with Portugal and England contesting the other last four fixture.

Switzerland dominated the opening exchanges of the match at the Hibernians Stadium in Paola, the scene of Scotland’s impressive 1-0 win over Germany on Monday.

McCrorie, the hero for Scotland in that match after he produced an incredible save in the last minute, was called into action after seven minutes and made an excellent diving stop from an Alban Selmanaj strike.

The Rangers goalkeeper made another fine save from Oberlin minutes later before Albian Ateji shot wide.

Atjei went close again for Switzerland on 14 minutes but McCrorie made another diving save.

The Swiss pressure continued and they deservedly took the lead on 20 minutes.

Mirlind Kryeziu clipped the ball over the top of the Scotland defence and Oberlin latched on before rifling his shot beyond McCrorie.

Scotland tried to get back into the game and Scott Wright, the goal hero on Monday, provided a threat before the break.

The Aberdeen forward had an effort saved by Gregor Kobel on the half hour mark in what was Scotland’s best chance of the first half.

Scotland went into half time facing elimination from the tournament with the Swiss going through in their place and Gemmill made two changes.

Craig Wighton and Ryan Hardie entered the fray replacing Cameron Ballantyne and Calvin Miller as Scotland went on the goal hunt.

And within five minutes, the changes paid off as Wighton grabbed his first goal of the finals.

Wright showed clever feet inside the Swiss penalty area before Wighton slammed the ball into the corner of the net.

After a disappointing first half, Scotland were suddenly in control the game and 11 minutes later they were 2-1 up with Wighton again involved in the goal.

He showed a burst of pace down the left before delivering a deep cross for Hardie who headed across goal and Sheppard slid in at the back post to put the Scots in front.

Seven minutes later, Scotland had the ball in the net again and a place in the last four was within touching distance.

Aidan Nesbitt picked out Hardie with pinpoint accuracy and the Rangers striker poked the ball past Kobel to give Scotland a two-goal cushion with 17 minutes remaining.

Switzerland tried to pull a goal back quickly through Oberlin but McCrorie made another smart stop.

On 71 minutes, the Swiss were handed a lifeline after the referee blew for a penalty following a challenge on Oberlin inside the penalty area by Zak Jules but McCrorie once again produced another stunning save, diving to his right and beating Boris Babic’s penalty away.

Hardie almost made it 4-1 on 74 minutes when he was through on goal thanks to another excellent Nesbitt pass but his shot was touched by the post by Kobel.

It was another memorable performance from Scotland Under-17s and the Dutch await in Sunday's semi-finals.

Scotland: McCrorie (GK), Wardrop, Breslin (Cpt.), Cameron, Thomson, Nesbitt, Wright (Kelly 79), Miller (Wighton 40), Jules, Ballantyne (Hardie 40), Sheppard.

Subs not used: Mackay (GK), Lang, Boyd, Mcilduff.


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