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.
England produced three wins to top UEFA European Under-17 Championship qualifying round Group 7 but the other side progressing is not yet clear.
John Peacock's side ended a run of three straight qualifications last season but look in good shape after beating hosts Estonia 2-0 and neighbours Wales 1-0 and Northern Ireland 3-2. Going into that last game Northern Ireland were three points ahead of Estonia but the hosts' match against Wales was abandoned due to snow and will be resumed, with the visitors 1-0 up, on 10 November.
"We would have taken this outcome at the very start of the tournament and after three wins against tough opposition, we're delighted with that," Peacock said. "No game has been easy, they've all been difficult in different ways and I think we can be pleased with the results that we've got, but I know there’s room for improvement and the lads know that as well."
Northern Ireland made a spectacular start, beating Wales 4-0 with all the goals in the first 28 minutes including two Jamie McDonagh penalties. England took until nearly the hour mark to break the deadlock against Estonia but George Green and substitute Reise Collier saw them home. Kean Bryan's solo run and shot from distance on 34 minutes was enough to give England victory against Wales. The 2010 winners' elite round place was assured as Northern Ireland drew 1-1 with Estonia, Frank Liivak giving the hosts the lead after FC Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Svjatoslav Jakovlev's free-kick for only three minutes before Ross Lavery's equaliser.
In a game moved to an artificial surface and kicked off early due to forecast snow on Friday, Northern Ireland knew a point against England would leave them out of Estonia's reach in the later match and McDonagh put them ahead on 18 minutes. England had already hit the post at that point and got a deserved equaliser just before half-time through Ruben Loftus-Cheek's header. Bryn Morris converted a penalty after Seyi Ojo was fouled and then turned in a George Green pass to put England in control and they held on to win despite McDonagh finding the target again with nine minutes to go and then hitting a free-kick against the crossbar in added time.
The other match was also moved to the same stadium but 26 minutes in, with Wales 1-0 up, the game was halted due to the snowfall. A date will be set for the resumption, as per competition regulation articles 10.04-05, with Estonia needing to win by a five-goal margin to catch Northern Ireland in second. By then, should either Estonia or Northern Ireland finish third, they will know if they are one of the two teams in that position to progress from the 13 groups, with the best record against the leading pair in that section.
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