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.
Russia cemented their place at the head of UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 6 and maintained their perfect qualifying record thanks to Fedor Smolov's second-half penalty.
The FC Dinamo Moskva forward kept his nerve to beat Stivi Frasheri from the spot with 16 minutes remaining after Turkey substitute Dorian Kerciku brought down captain Pavel Yakovlev. The win makes it four from four and moves Russia five points clear of second-placed Poland at the halfway stage of qualifying.
Without top-scorer Aleksandr Kokorin, who has five goals to his name so far, Nikolai Pisarev's side struggled to create and it was Albania who threatened first. The dangerous Armando Sadiku forced Nikolai Zabolotni into a fine save from 20 metres as he looked to add to his four qualifying goals. Yakovlev fired off target before the break, and KS Elbasani man Sadiku slalomed through the Russian defence only to shoot wide after the restart.
However, KH Tirana midfielder Kerciku offended in the box shortly after replacing Fabio Hoxha and the 21-year-old Smolov won it from the spot. FC Spartak Moskva stopper Zabolotni had to be on fine form late on to ensure his side's record remained unblemished.
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|Skënder Gega (ALB)||Nikolai Pisarev (RUS)|
|Mattias Gestranius (FIN)|
|Marko Hänninen (FIN), Jukka Honkanen (FIN)|
|Petteri Kari (FIN)|