England finished top of their U-20 World Cup group after a stalemate with Iraq on Sunday night at La Plata Stadium.
Ian Foster’s Young Lions made sure of top spot with a controlled performance that should, in truth, have yielded all three points.
With England winning their first two matches of the tournament, it meant they went into this battle knowing they would top Group E as long as they avoided defeat against Iraq.
Sam Edozie had a goal ruled out for offside and Liam Delap had a penalty saved in first-half injury-time for England, while goalkeeper Teddy Sharman-Lowe made an excellent save during the second period to ensure both teams had to settle for a point, England Football reports.
The Young Lions will now face Italy on Tuesday night in the round of 16 after they finished second in Group D, level on six points with leaders Brazil and third-placed Nigeria.
Head coach Ian Foster made five changes to his starting line-up and with Sharman-Lowe also coming on as a substitute at half-time, it meant every member of the squad who has been available in the group stage has now featured in the tournament.
England were the better side in the first half, with Harvey Vale forcing goalkeeper Hussein Hasan into a good save after cutting inside on his left foot, and right wing-back Daniel Oyegoke also hitting the post with an effort.
Sam Edozie had a goal ruled out for offside after he had been put through one-on-one and rounded the goalkeeper to score.
And the Young Lions went agonisingly close to scoring again during first-half injury-time when, after a long VAR check, it was adjudged that Edozie had been brought down in the penalty box, but Liam Delap’s spot-kick – whilst powerfully struck – was close enough to Hasan for the goalkeeper to make a superb save.
Iraq came close to scoring with an hour on the clock when Youssef Amyn sent a shot past Sharman-Lowe’s near post.
England created fewer chances in the second half, although Alfie Devine did head over the bar from an excellent Vale cross with 20 minutes remaining.
But Iraq showed the Young Lions would need to be on their guard in the final quarter of an hour as Amyn was put through one-on-one and would have scored had it not been for an excellent save by Sharman-Lowe.
England almost snatched a winner in the seventh minute of injury-time when substitute Daniel Jebbison rattled the crossbar with a volley.
Focus will now switch to the last 16 clash with Italy, which kicks off at 10pm BST on Tuesday night.