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.
Marco van Ginkel scored twice without reply as the Netherlands took a firm grip on their UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-off against Slovakia.
Following a goalless first period in which the home side started positively, Van Ginkel put the Jong Oranje ahead in the 55th minute. His second, a predatory strike in the closing stages to divert a header from Luuk de Jong into the net, means the Dutch are perfectly situated to secure a place in the finals for the first time since winning the second of their two titles in 2007.
The early stages, if not most of the first 45 minutes in Senec on Thursday, belonged to Ivan Galád's side. Lukáš Pauschek was denied by the outrushing Jeroen Zoet in the first minute and, a little over a quarter of an hour later, Róbert Mak slipped at the crucial moment with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Cor Pot's team slowly began to take control, yet they were restricted to long-range efforts which failed to trouble Michal Šulla in the Slovakia goal. All the while, Slovakia remained a threat on the counterattack through Mak and Martin Mikovič.
However, Van Ginkel, the 19-year-old Vitesse midfielder, broke the deadlock ten minutes into the second half, finishing off a one-on-one chance with Šulla following a precision pass from Adam Maher. Slovakia had opportunities to equalise, notably via Mikovič and Kristián Kolčák's outrageous attempt from the halfway line, yet conceded what could be the crucial goal eight minutes from time.
A cross from the left by substitute Jerson Cabral was headed on by De Jong and Van Ginkel, with the slightest of touches, turned the ball past Šulla. The return leg takes place on Monday in Rotterdam.
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|Ivan Galád (SVK)||Cor Pot (NED)|
|Antony Gautier (FRA)|
|Michael Annonier (FRA), Philippe Jeanne (FRA)|
|Said Ennjimi (FRA)|