Head coach Gemma Davies said she was “over the moon” for her players and team after the England Women’s Under-19s qualified for this summer’s EURO.
England WU19 went into Tuesday’s game with Belgium knowing a draw would be enough to qualify for the UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Championship in the Czech Republic.
But Aggie Beever-Jones’ second-half hat trick meant the Young Lionesses qualified in style at St. George’s Park.
Speaking shortly after qualification was achieved, Davies said: “Firstly I am understandably very relieved and secondly I am truly over the moon for all the girls and the staff.
“They worked very hard over the last six months and it all added up in that one game and we got the result. We are going to a European final!
England WU19 beat Wales 3-0 and Iceland 2-0 last week to take the lead in Group 3.
But the Young Lionesses entered the final 20 minutes of the game against Belgium with a draw and knowing that just one strike from their opponents had the potential to end their hopes of reaching the EURO final.
But two goals in five minutes from Beever-Jones relieved some of the pressure and victory was sealed in the 85th minute when the Chelsea striker completed his hat-trick.
Davies said: “I would be lying if I said there were no nerves [in the game]there certainly was, but I think we put ourselves in a really good position in the first qualifying round, when we got into the position where we were on the better side of the draw, so a lot of the work base was made in October.
“We may have been on the more favorable side of the draw, but the opposition we’ve faced over the last ten days has been really difficult and has posed different challenges. We’ve had to tweak and adapt. every game, so today was tough, but I would say it was our best performance so far in this group.
Davies told his team at half-time to keep it simple and try to play faster in the wide areas, and it paid off in the second half thanks to Beever-Jones’ hat-trick.
The striker has spent this season on loan at FA Women’s Championship side Bristol City and Davies believes the teenager is one of many in the squad to benefit from senior football during the 2021-22 campaign.
Davies said: “She’s a great character and she’s a huge influence on the band because of her bubbly nature. She’s very funny but down to earth and hardworking. Hard work is key because you have it. seen in her performance.She is super diligent and hardworking.
“It led her to stay in the game because at that age players tend to give up, switch off and lose focus at times, but throughout the 90 minutes she stayed in the game. game and you saw it with her performance and the three goals that she scored.
She continued: “The exposure that kids get on loan in the Championship or even in some cases in WSL teams gives them the exposure that they maybe don’t get when playing football from the academy.
“Naturally the people who get that playing time and that exposure, it helps when they get here [with England WU19s] because they have better rhythm and momentum for the things they do. You can see that with a lot of players coming into this camp.
England U19s now have a month to wait before knowing who will be in their squad at the 2022 UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Championship final, with the draw on May 18.
Hosts Czech Republic and the Young Lionesses will be joined by France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Group 4 winners in the competition, which runs from June 27 to June 9 July.
The eight teams will be split into two groups of four, before the top two advance to the semi-finals.
Davies said: “Of course we’re here to try and win the tournament, that’s what we want to do, and our eyes are really on competing with the best and getting as far as we can.
“For many of us this will be our first experience of a major tournament, but initially our focus will be to focus on those early group games once we know the draw and then take it to from there.”