The 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship comprises a qualifying group stage and play-off round to determine which seven teams join hosts Israel in the final tournament.
Qualifying group stage
Teams are split into ten groups – two of six teams and eight of five – and play each other on a home and away basis. The ten group winners and four runners-up with the best record against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their sections advance to the play-offs.
Play-off matches are played according to the knockout system, with each team playing each opponent home and away. The team which scores the greater aggregate of goals qualifies for the next round, with away goals, extra time and then penalties used to determine the winner in the event of a draw.
The final tournament comprises the seven play-off winners and Israel, who qualify automatically as hosts. The eight teams are split into two groups of four. Each team plays each other once in their group with the winners and runners-up advancing to the semi-finals where the winner of Group A plays the Group B runner-up and vice-versa. The winners advance to the final.
Further details, including the criteria for separating teams that finish level on points in a group, can be found in the official competition regulations.
Having finished third at this summer's final tournament in Denmark, Belarus set out on the road to Israel 2013 with a 3-2 victory against Greece courtesy of Dimitri Khlebosolov's added-time penalty.
Khlebosolov's superb solo effort put the visitors ahead on 13 minutes, with Oleg Patotski doubling their advantage soon after. Giannis Potouridis pulled one back from the spot and when Kostas Fortounis equalised three minutes from time Georgios Georgiadis's side were seemingly headed for a point. However, Tassos Lagos fouled Artem Skitov inside the area and Khlebosolov converted the penalty to seal a last-gasp victory for Belarus.
The visitors began on the front foot and were ahead early on, Khlebosolov dribbling his way past three defenders and beating Kostas Lambrou from close range. Five minutes later Yuri Shukanov's side extended their lead through Patotski, who pounced on the loose ball after Lambrou failed to collect Yuri Kendysh's strike.
Pavlos Mitropoulos and Fortounis came closest to pulling one back for Greece, who were given a way back into the match when Igor Kuzmenok felled Apostolos Giannou inside the penalty area. Potouridis kept his cool to send Georgiadis's side into the break on a high.
The hosts came out firing after the break and piled men forward in search of an equaliser. Apostolos Vellios headed wide and later tested the reflexes of Andrei Scherbakov from a Fortounis corner. Greece got the equaliser they were craving when the lively Fortounis found a way past Scherbakov with three minutes remaining, but Khlebosolov denied them a share of the spoils at the death.
Both nations return to qualifying action on 2 September, when Greece visit Cyprus and Belarus host Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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|Georgios Georgiadis (GRE)||Yuri Shukanov (BLR)|
|Paolo Valeri (ITA)|
|Nicola Nicoletti (ITA), Roberto Romagnoli (ITA)|
|Daniele Doveri (ITA)|