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Benzia takes France into finals again

Published: Monday 10 June 2013, 20.58CET
Yassine Benzia was the central figure as two-time champions France beat hosts Austria on the last day to qualify for the final tournament again with a perfect Group 1 record.
by Ernst Schneider
Benzia takes France into finals again
France celebrate after sealing a finals place ©Josef Steindl

Road to the final

The UEFA European Under-19 Championship consists of three distinct stages: the qualifying round, the elite round and the final tournament.

Qualifying round
The qualifying round, played in autumn, is made up of 13 groups of four teams playing in one-venue mini-tournaments. The top two from each progress.

Elite round
In the elite round, played in the spring, those 26 qualifiers join the top two seeds, given a bye, in seven mini-tournament groups of four. The group winners then join the hosts in the finals.

Final tournament

The seven qualifiers plus the hosts are split into two groups of four who play each other once, with the top two progressing to the semi-finals. The winners of those ties contest the final.

Further details, including the criteria for separating teams that finish level on points in a group, or after extra time in a match, can be found in the official competition regulations.

Published: Monday 10 June 2013, 20.58CET

Benzia takes France into finals again

Yassine Benzia was the central figure as two-time champions France beat hosts Austria on the last day to qualify for the final tournament again with a perfect Group 1 record.

France came through a final-day meeting against Austria to top UEFA European Under-19 Championship elite round Group 1 thanks to a 1-0 victory against the section hosts.

The pair had recorded wins against both Sweden and Bosnia and Herzegovina to set up their matchday three showdown in Traiskirchen, with Austria needing only a point thanks to their superior goal difference. They were denied that, however, Yassine Benzia capitalising on a defensive error to score what proved to be the only goal in the 28th minute, and take France – champions in 2005 and 2010 – into the finals again.

"We expected a hard game, and it was," said their coach Francis Smerecki. "Both teams deserved to go to the finals in Lithuania. We were strong at the back and took advantage of Austria's only mistake to score the winning goal. At the end we had a lot of good scoring chances, but we missed them, so it was close right until the final whistle. I'm very proud of my team and we're very happy to have qualified for the championships."

His side had opened their campaign with a 3-0 defeat of Sweden, Adrian Horoun scoring twice, before a 1-0 defeat of Bosnia and Herzegovina achieved thanks to a 25th-minute penalty from Olympique Lyonnais striker Benzia.

Austria had been even more impressive, putting six past Bosnia and Herzegovina in their first game and three – all from Marcel Sabitzer – past Sweden, all without reply. When it mattered most, however, it was France who held their nerve.

Last updated: 11/06/13 9.39CET

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