The UEFA European Under-17 Championship consists of three distinct stages: the qualifying round, the elite round and the final tournament. The format changed for 2014/15 with the expansion of the final tournament from eight to 16 teams.
The qualifying round, played in autumn, is made up of 13 groups of four countries playing in one-venue mini-tournaments. The top two from each pool progress alongside the four third-placed sides with the best record against the leading pair in their groups.
In the elite round, held in early spring, those 30 qualifiers plus the top two seeds – given a bye this far – compete in eight mini-tournament groups of four. The group winners and seven runners-up with the best record against the teams first and third in their section advance to the finals to join the hosts.
In the final tournament the contenders are split into four groups of four, with the front two from each proceeding to the knockout phase.
Further details, including the criteria for separating sides that finish level on points in a group, or after 80 minutes in a match, can be found in the official competition regulations.
Portugal and Norway made comfortable progress from UEFA European Under-17 Championship qualifying round Group 9 in Malta.
Both sides beat the hosts and Iceland on the opening two matchdays to make sure of their progress to the elite round in March. Iver Fossum registered for the third successive game as Norway clinched top spot with a 1-0 win against Portugal today going into the 5 December draw. "I'm very happy with qualification and the performance of my team," said Norway coach Bård Flovik. "I thought we were the best team here."
Norway opened with a 2-1 defeat of Malta, Zymer Bytyqi and Fossum scoring before the break with Malta captain Jurgen Degabriele pulling one back early in the second half. Portugal defeated Iceland 4-2 and were four up just past the hour thanks to José Postiga's hat-trick.
Fossum and Bytyqi struck again as Norway beat Iceland 2-0 two days later and the two qualifiers were confirmed when Portugal overcame Malta 2-1. Antoine Attard did cancel out Gonçalo Guedes's 17th-minute goal but Rui Moreira claimed what proved the winner just before the break despite having a penalty saved by Philip Shranz in the second half.
Malta ended with a third defeat on Thursday, Kristinn Sigurjonsson and Eggert Tómasson's penalty earning Iceland a 2-0 victory. However, Iceland cannot advance as one of the two best third-placed teams.
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