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FIFA U17 World Cup: England deserves to go through to the knockouts, says Steve Cooper

[caption id="attachment_56224" align="aligncenter" width="580"]1453 England won a thriller against Mexico today at the Salt Lake Stadium. Image Source: XtraTime[/caption]

Kolkata: England on Wednesday became the first team from Group F to make the pre-quarterfinals in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The Young Lions got the better off Mexico (3-2) in an evenly contested match here at the Salt Lake Stadium. But England Coach Steve Cooper England warned his young guns against complacency.

Up 3-0 inside one hour, England let in two goals in a space of seven mintues to settle for a 3-2 win against two-time champions Mexico as their second win in a row earned them a last-16 qualification with a match to spare.

"It's a luxury to qualify after two games. But we are not thinking past the group stage yet. We have to show respect to our next opposition by recovering and putting on a good show again," Cooper said about their final group F match against Iraq here in three days' time.

"Today was a difficult game as well. It shows quality and strength. We showed that in abundance tonight. We are ready to recover and play the next game. We are a team. I'm pleased with the performance, no doubt about that."

Should they top the group, England will play their pre-quarterfinal at the Saltlake Stadium and Cooper said they have developed a strong connect with the city.

"We are absolutely loving it in Kolkata. The huge support at the stadium and people around training ground is just amazing. We will be doing some community work at a school tomorrow. We want to be visible among the local people in Kolkata,

But their defence crumbled in the last 30 minutes as El Tri bounced back through a splendid brace by Diego Lainez.

"I thought we were wary of them in the second half. As for conceding the two goals, this can happen with young players. It's a learning opportunity for them.

"But we did not crumble and concede a third. We have got six points from two games, that's more important."

Dortmund's Jadon Sancho may be on his way back to join the Bundesliga giants but Cooper said they have enough in their ranks to replace the star player who has three goals in two matches.

"We have got 21 players, I'm happy to play them. England is not about just one player. I'm comfortable with playing 21, that what's we do in managing players. I'm really happy with the result."

On their next opposition Iraq, he said: "We are in a tough group, a group with a variety of opposition. I don't think there's any easy game in the World Cup. The best example was tonight. We can only concentrate on ourselves."

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