UEFA Under-19 Championship Qualifying Round results:
Wales 1-2 Scotland
Scotland 5-0 San Marino
Scotland 2-2 Sweden
Scotland’s under-19s maintained their impressive recent record of qualifying for the UEFA Elite Round, coming through a tough Qualifying Round group to progress to the next stage.
Billy Stark’s side showed impressive resolve to finish unbeaten in their section, with two wins and a draw ensuring that Scotland would be in the draw for the Elite Round, which takes place at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon on Thursday 6 December.
An 85th minute goal from Billy Gilmour was the difference in Scotland’s opening match against hosts Wales, an own goal from Wales’ Brandon Cooper having been cancelled out by Neco Williams prior to Gilmour’s late intervention.
Stark’s men were then too strong for San Marino in their second outing, scoring five without reply in Rhyl thanks to a brace from Jack Aitchison and strikes from Gilmour, Dapo Mebude and Sebastian Ross.
That left Scotland needing just a point from their final match against Sweden to ensure their passage to the next round, and they looked to be well on their way when Gilmour’s third goal in three games gave his team a 1-0 lead at the break. However, two Swedish goals in as many minutes turned the match on its head as the game entered the final 10 minutes, before Scotland captain Elliot Watt struck in the 83rd minute to seal both a 2-2 draw and the point required by his team.
#SCO19s | FULL TIME: Scotland 2-2 Sweden.— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) November 20, 2018
Goals from @billygilmourrr and @ell_watt00 seal a draw. This means that we finish top of the group and qualify for the Elite Round unbeaten.
Well done lads! #YoungTeam pic.twitter.com/fnMQYVdRDw
Scotland manager Billy Stark was pleased with his side’s performance over the three games.
“We’re delighted to get through to the Elite Round,” said Stark.
“It gives this squad a real sense of purpose going forward. We knew that it would be a tough group to get through – Wales on their home patch, being able to boast players from the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United, were always going to be tough, and Sweden are a strong side.
“We set out to win every game and to top the group, and that’s what we did. I was really pleased with the attitude of the players, especially in the final game – we had a mad couple of minutes against Sweden and lost the two goals, but we kept our composure and ended up getting a really well-worked goal to take us through.
“From my point of view, I was really pleased with our strength in depth over the three games. The other significant thing for me was that, despite being expected to beat San Marino, we put pressure on the players to be ruthless and they did just that. In the end, that made the difference.”