The lineup for the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship is complete, with Iceland, England, the Czech Republic, Belarus, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine joining hosts Denmark in next summer's finals following the conclusion of the play-offs on Tuesday.
Belarus pulled off the shock of the night to knock out five-time champions Italy, recovering from a 2-0 first-leg defeat to advance 3-2 on aggregate thanks to Oleg Veretilo's strike six minutes into extra time.
Only Belarus, England and Spain will be returning for the 2011 edition after contesting the 2009 finals in Sweden, while Iceland will be making their maiden finals appearance thanks to Monday's 2-1 win over Scotland, which helped them advance 4-2 on aggregate. "
It has taken a lot of work to reach this stage and the team deserves to be there," Iceland coach Eyjólfur Sverrisson said.
England overcame Romania 2-1 on aggregate after drawing 0-0 in Botosani on Tuesday, and that result secured them a finals place for the third time in succession. Stuart Pearce's side reached the semi-finals in 2007 and the final last summer in Malmo, where they lost 4-0 to Germany.
That Germany will not be on hand to defend their trophy is down in large part to 2002 winners the Czech Republic, who return to the finals for the first time since 2007 after comfortably seeing off Greece 5-0 on aggregate. Jakub Dovalil's side got the better of Germany on the way to winning Group 5 and are the only side to have come through the qualifying campaign undefeated.
Ukraine, meanwhile, lost for the first time on Tuesday, 2-0 against the Netherlands, but still advanced on the away-goals rule to avenge their 2006 final defeat at the hands of the Jong Oranje. "I must admit we were a bit lucky but we absolutely deserved this result as my team showed great passion and commitment in both games," said Ukraine coach Pavlo Yakovenko. And what is his next goal? "We want to become European and Olympic champions; we always set the maximum targets for ourselves."
Switzerland saw off 2009 hosts and semi-finalists Sweden 5-2 on aggregate to reach the final tournament for the first time since 2004, while two-time winners Spain return after beating Croatia 5-1 on aggregate.
The final tournament will take place from 11-25 June 2011 in Aarhus, Herning, Aalborg and Viborg in Denmark, who qualify automatically as hosts. The seven qualifiers plus Denmark will be split into two groups of four at the final tournament draw in Aalborg on 9 November 2010.
Provisional match schedule
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