Cyprus crashed out of the Uefa under 17 championship on Thursday night after being beaten 3-1 by Serbia despite having initially taken the lead at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca.

The tournament’s hosts made seven changes to their starting lineup after suffering a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of the Czech Republic on Monday, while Serbia came into the game having edged past Ukraine in their first game.

The game began in a similar fashion to Cyprus’ opener, with the young Cypriot side forced to withstand a spate of early Serbian pressure.

Serbia were largely limited to half chances in the opening exchanges, with Mihajlo Cvetkovic’s effort which was blazed over the crossbar from the edge of the box, and captain Viktor Stojanovic’s weak header from a corner their only early sights on goal.

Just as on Monday, Cyprus began to grow into the game after withstanding the early pressure and were able to get on the ball more and progress up the pitch, but seemed to lack an end product.

At the other end, the lively Uros Dordevic and Dorde Rankovic kept Cyprus’ defence occupied, while a free kick from Veljko Milosavljevic whizzed past the post to give the hosts a scare.

Serbia had their first serious sight of goal after 20 minutes, with midfielder Dusan Makevic feeding Dordevic on the left-hand side. Dordevic cut in and forced Cypriot goalkeeper Stavros Panagi to parry into the path of Andrija Maksimovic, whose rebound was sent high over the crossbar.

Cyprus got in behind the Serbian defence a couple of minutes later, with Petros Ioannou setting Christos Loukaidis free and in on goal.

Loukaidis’ first touch was lacking, however, and by the time he gathered the ball, Relja Premovic had got back to cover, and stopped the attack in its tracks.

A chance at either end then followed around the half an hour mark, with Aleksa Vasilic firing straight at Panagi after playing a neat one-two with Andrija Maksimovic to find himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, before Christos Loukaidis half volleyed the ball high and over the cross bar from an Anninos Nicolaou cross.

Then, exactly 34 minutes in, Cyprus’ moment came. A misplaced pass from Serbian midfielder Igor Bubanja in his own half fell straight to the feet of Petros Ioannou, who had only goalkeeper Vukasin Jovanovic between himself and the goal.

He turned and chipped the ball from 40 yards out over Jovanovic’s head and into the Serbian net to give the hosts the lead.

Pandemonium ensued on the pitch and in the stands as after more than two hours of football, the hosts had scored their first goal.

While Serbia did immediately create a chance for themselves after falling behind, Andrija Maksimovic forcing Stavros Panagi into a save, the goal did seem to somewhat unnerve them.

A rather weak shot from range from Stefanos Vasiliou almost proved too much for Serbian goalkeeper Vukasin Jokanovic, who spilled the ball into open space in front of him rather than catch it. He fared better a few minutes later, more confidently catching a similar effort from Charalambos Michalas.

However, Serbia did eventually gather themselves, and equalised with the last kick of the first half when an inch perfect cross from Dorde Rankovic was side footed into the bottom corner of the net by Mihajlo Cvetkovic.

Buoyed by their goal, Serbia were once again the dominant side at the beginning of the second half, and this time, their dominance paid.

This time, their dominance paid, too, with captain and centre half Viktor Stojanovic giving his side the lead when he found himself in space and the ball was cut back to him by Cvetkovic, after Cvetkovic’s initial shot had been saved by Stavros Panagi.

Serbia’s lead was doubled ten minutes later when a clever square pass from Andrija Maksimovic found substitute Vasijije Kostov in space 25 yards from goal. Kostov’s shot took a deflection, but its initial power took it beyond the Cypriot goalkeeper and into the corner of the net.

Despite having a mountain to climb, Cyprus did not give up after going 3-1 down, creating a series of half chances and making the Serbian defence and goalkeeper Vukasin Jokanovic work.

Charalambos Michalas dragged a shot wide a few minutes before substitute Chrysis Evangelou forced him into a save after an exquisite skilful run down the right wing. The loose ball fell to Argyris Christodoulou, who could not get the ball out of his feet before being closed down.

Christodoulou had a shot of his own shortly after, cutting in from the left to arrow a shot low at Jokanovic, who again required two attempts to gather the ball.

After that flurry of shots, the game’s pace somewhat dropped as the clock ticked down, Cyprus conscious they faced an ever more difficult task of finding two goals to avoid being mathematically eliminated from the tournament they are hosting, and Serbia happy to let the clock run down.

In stoppage time, Aleksa Vasilic lofted a ball through to substitute Aleksa Damjanovic, whose shot forced a final save from Stavros Panagi, before Cyprus went up the other end and a rasping long-range shot from Chrysis Evangelou was saved by Vukasin Jokanovic.

The Cypriot team were applauded off by the young crowd who had turned out to watch them, having far from disgraced themselves on the night, while the Serbians celebrated victory and qualification for the quarter finals with the small Serbian following contingent.

In the other game in Cyprus’ group, the Czech Republic also booked their place in the quarter finals after beating Ukraine 3-1 at the Tasos Markou Stadium in Paralimni, with Ukraine also being eliminated.

Lukas Moudry opened the scoring for the Czech Republic with a penalty, with an Ondrej Penxa brace putting the game beyond Ukraine, who scored a consolation through Kyrylo Dihtiar in stoppage time.

Elsewhere, Wales were also eliminated after succumbing to a 3-0 defeat to Austria at Larnaca’s Ammochostos Stadium. Mauro Hammerle, Valentin Zabransky, and Adrian Riegel were the goalscorers.

Denmark and Croatia played out a 2-2 draw at the Ethnikos Stadium in Achna.

Lasse Abdilgaard gave Denmark the lead before a goal either side of half time from Croatia, through Patrice Covic and Noa Mikic turned the tie around. Roberto Risnaes’ goal on the hour mark ensured the points were shared.