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 five third-placed sides with the best record against the leading pair in their groups.
In the elite round, held in early spring, those 31 qualifiers plus the top seed – 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.
A point against the section winners on a rain-soaked final day meant Austria joined Switzerland in progressing from UEFA European Under-17 Championship qualifying round Group 6.
Switzerland had already clinched an elite round slot before today's matches, having beaten the Faroe Islands 3-0 and Cyprus 5-1. Hosts Austria had been held by on the opening day by Cyprus, who were left behind by Austria after both matchday three fixtures finished 1-1.
On the opening day, Austria had much the better of their match against Cyprus but could not find a way past goalkeeper Andreas Nikolas Christodoulou – Valentino Lazaro hitting the crossbar and Tobias Pellegrini missing several chances including one in added time. By contrast, Switzerland broke the deadlock against the Faroe Islands in the first minute through Kilian Pagliuca and in the second half Marsel Stevic and Marco Trachsel completed the victory.
They were safely through two days later as, after falling behind to a Giorgos Katsiati goal for Cyprus, Deni Kadoic, Jolan Forestal, Meriton Bytyqi and – following a red card for Giorgos Siathas – substitutes Romain Kursner and Albian Ajeti ensured a comfortable Swiss win. Austria were also in the goals, Pellegrini and Adrian Grbic both striking twice in a 6-0 elimination of the Faroe Islands.
That meant Austria needed a point against the Swiss to make sure of joining their opponents in the elite round, but their prospects looked bleak when Trachsel opened the scoring in the 29th minute. Austria responded and levelled through Grbic 11 minutes after half-time, holding on for the result they needed.
Cyprus could therefore only finish third at best regardless of their result against the Faroes, who looked on course for a win that would have taken them above their opponents when Betuel Hansen gave them a 55th-minute advantage. Cyprus poured forward and, though Andys Antreas Nikolaou equalised deep into added time, it was not enough for a win. However, the draw does not harm their hopes of progressing as one of the two runners-up with the best record against the leading pair in their group; they currently are top of that reckoning with seven pools completed.
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