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.
The Netherlands, winners of the past two finals, and Belgium are through to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship elite round after filling the top two spots in qualifying round Group 3.
Going into the final day, hosts Belgium were assured of their progress having beaten Lithuania 2-0 and Latvia 5-0. The Netherlands had defeated Latvia 2-1 but, after drawing 0-0 against Lithuania, still needed a point against Belgium on Sunday to be guaranteed of going through. They went one better and picked up a 2-1 victory to finish top of the section.
Captained by the one remaining player from the squad that retained the title in Slovenia last May – Riechedly Bazoer – the Netherlands went ahead 38 minutes in against Latvia through Dabney Souza. Damian van Bruggen then converted a penalty before the hour to seal the win, with Ņikita Koļesovs getting a late consolation for their Baltic opponents. As for Belgium, Zakaria Bakkali and Siebe Schrijvers buried their first-half goals against Lithuania and both were also on target in the defeat of Latvia two days later.
All eyes thus fell on the Low Countries derby in Eeklo, where Charly Musonda gave mini-tournament hosts Belgium a 16th-minute lead with a powerful drive following a fine dribble. Unperturbed, the Netherlands responded via a Bazoer penalty just beyond the hour after Yassine Ben Mohamadi had been brought down by Gilles Dewaele, and Ben Mohamadi completed the turnaround with a header a minute from time.
In the day's other game, Latvia beat Lithuania 1-0 to pick up their first points of the campaign. That outcomes means that Spain will definitely progress as one of the two third-placed sides with the best record against the leading pair in their section.
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