Serbia came from behind to qualify for the Uefa under 17 championship quarter finals with a dramatic 3-2 victory over Austria at the AEK Arena in Larnaca on Wednesday night.

Austria were ahead in a flash, scoring the opener within 25 seconds when Magnus Daipaz’s lobbed pass over the top of Serbia’s defence found Oghenetejiri Adejenughure, who finished confidently into the bottom left-hand corner.

However, Serbia were level almost as quickly, with a threatening pass from Andrija Maksimovic being cleverly flicked on by Aleksa Vasilic into the path of Dorde Rankovic, who passed the goal past Austrian goalkeeper Marcel Kurz to level the tie and inflict Austria’s first goal against of the tournament.

With the score now level once again, the game did somewhat calm down. Austria had a chance through Thierry Fidjeu-Tazemeta, but the number of chances began to thin out.

Austria played good passing football in the opening 20 minutes, with intricate one-touch passing moves creating space and putting pressure on the Serbian defence. Fidjeu-Tazemeta and Philipp Moizi looked particularly adept on either wing and stretched Serbia’s rear guard.

They had an aerial threat, too, with Eaden Roka launching a long throw into the box, which the knee of Austrian captain Valentin Zabransky could only turn over the crossbar.

There was a moment of comedy amid the football, as well, with Danish referee Jakob Sundberg dropping his yellow card in Serbia’s half. The card was retrieved by Serbian goalkeeper Vukasin Jovanovic, who then motioned to book the referee as he jogged over to collect the card.

The crispness of Austria’s passes did drop off to an extent as the half wore on, with Serbia able to gain more of a foothold in the game. Despite this, they were unable to find space in Austria’s final third, and it was still Austria who looked the most likely to score.

Austria’s Ensar Music forced Jovanovic into a save from a direct free kick on the half-hour mark, and Music then put Adejenughure through on goal for his best chance since the opening minute, but Adejenughure fired his shot high over the crossbar.

However, despite Austria having the better of the half, it was Serbia who took the lead in first half stoppage time.

A hopeful punt over the top of Austria’s defence by Andrija Maksimovic was latched onto by Dorde Rankovic, who turned beautifully to leave Ensar Music in his wake, before curling a shot perfectly in off the right-hand post to put Serbia ahead.

The start to the second half was less lively than the start to the first, with neither side going gung-ho from the start as they had in the opening 45 minutes.

The first chance was created and converted by Serbia. Dorde Rankovic cut Austria’s defence open with a through ball to put Mihajlo Cvetkovic one-on-one with Marcel Kurz. Cvetkovic made no mistake with the finish, chipping the ball over Kurz’s outstretched leg to give his side a two-goal cushion and with one foot in the semi final.

It was Serbia who then found themselves in the ascendancy after the goal, with Austria unable to get out of their own half for five minutes after falling two goals behind.

They did then begin to work their way back into the tie, though with the score as it was and the clock running down, every Serbian attack carried with it the threat of putting the game beyond all doubt.

Serbia managed the game well, however, and largely restricted Austria to pot shots from the edge of the box.

The closest Austria came to scoring before the last ten minutes of the game was a free kick from Ilia Ivanschitz onto the head of Magnus Dalpiaz. Dalpiaz’s header was weak and into the hands of Vukasin Jokanovic, however, and he was adjudged to have been offside in any case.

However, a grandstand finish was set up ten minutes from time when Oghenetejiri Adejenughure latched onto a hopeful punt up the pitch from Philipp Maybach, cutting in from the left-hand side before bending a shot into the top right-hand corner to reduce the deficit to a single goal.

Serbia nearly restored their two-goal advantage with five minutes remaining when an outswinging Vasilije Kostov corner was met by a powerful header from Veljko Milosavljevic, which Marcel Kurz needed two attempts to gather.

In the closing stages, Serbia’s goalkeeper Vukasin Jovanovic spent much of his time outside his penalty area and playing effectively as a sweeper to protect against the ball in behind which had undone his side at the very start of the game.

Austria were then limited to half chances, with a scramble on the edge of the box leading to a Yanik Spalt shot from the edge of the box which was straight into the grateful arms of Vukasin Jokanovic.

Serbia were reduced to ten men deep into stoppage time when Uros Dordevic was given a straight redd card for a stamp on Ilia Ivanschitz, but held on to see out the victory, with the last act being a volleyed shot from Oghenetejiri Adejenughure, which once again ended in Jokanovic’s arms.

Serbia will now play either Poland or Portugal on Sunday. In the day’s other quarter final, Denmark edged past the Czech Republic on penalties at the Ammochostos Stadium in Larnaca.

The Czech Republic had taken the lead 20 minutes from time through Ondrej Penxa but were pegged back ten minutes later by a Chidozie Obi goal. Denmark then held their nerve in the shootout, Oliver Hojer scoring the winning penalty to set up a semi final tie with either Italy or England.