Football: England escaped a nightmare draw for next summer’s Uefa Under-21 Championship finals today after they were paired with Israel, Norway and Italy.
The Young Lions almost landed the kindest possible opposition in Group A as they swerved defending champions Spain, Germany and Russia.
Holland completed Group B, with England automatically avoiding them as both sides were second seeds.
Spain helped knock Stuart Pearce’s men out of the last tournament in 2011, where they failed to progress from the group stage.
Germany, meanwhile, thrashed England in the 2009 final, while Holland beat them in an epic semi-final penalty shootout two years earlier.
England’s draw saw them renew their rivalry with Norway, whom they beat to top spot in qualifying Group Eight.
Israel qualified automatically as hosts, while Italy finished top of Group Seven before beating Sweden in the play-offs.
England are expected to open their finals campaign against the hosts, before meeting Italy and then Norway.
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