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EURO play-offs: History and records

Three teams will reach the finals of UEFA EURO 2024 via the play-offs – UEFA.com pores over the stats from previous editions.

Hungary players celebrate reaching UEFA EURO 2020
Hungary players celebrate reaching UEFA EURO 2020 AFP via Getty Images

Three teams will reach UEFA EURO 2024 via the play-offs on 26 March 2024, completing the 24-nation line-up for the finals in Germany.

There have been play-offs for six of the last seven EUROs, starting with a one-off match between the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland in Liverpool for EURO '96. The UEFA EURO 2020 play-offs offered a very different format, though. For the first time, teams had to come through more than one round and, unlike all previous editions, sides qualified to participate via the UEFA Nations League rather than the European Qualifiers.

UEFA.com pores over the previous ties and the vital play-off statistics from down the years.

UEFA EURO 2024 schedule

Previous EURO play-off ties

1996: Republic of Ireland 0-2 Netherlands, Liverpool
2000: Scotland 1-2 agg England (0-2 1-0)
2000: Israel 0-8 agg Denmark (0-5 0-3)
2000: Slovenia 3-2 agg Ukraine (2-1 1-1)
2000: Republic of Ireland 1-1 agg Turkey (1-1 0-0, Turkey win on away goals)
2004: Scotland 1-6 agg Netherlands (1-0 0-6)
2004: Croatia 2-1 agg Slovenia (1-1 1-0)
2004: Russia 1-0 agg Wales (0-0 1-0)
2004: Latvia 3-2 agg Turkey (1-0 2-2)
2004: Spain 5-1 agg Norway (2-1 3-0)
2012: Turkey 0-3 agg Croatia (0-3 0-0)
2012: Estonia 1-5 agg Republic of Ireland (0-4 1-1)
2012: Czech Republic 3-0 agg Montenegro (2-0 1-0)
2012: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-6 agg Portugal (0-0 2-6)
2016: Ukraine 3-1 agg Slovenia (2-0 1-1)
2016: Sweden 4-3 agg Denmark (2-1 2-2)
2016: Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-3 agg Republic of Ireland (1-1 0-2)
2016: Norway 1-3 agg Hungary (0-1 1-2)
2020: Path A semi-final: Bulgaria 1-3 Hungary 
2020: Path A semi-final: Iceland 2-1 Romania
2020: Path B semi-finals: Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-1 Northern Ireland (aet, Northern Ireland win 4-3 on pens)
2020: Path B semi-final: Slovakia 0-0 Republic of Ireland (aet, Slovakia win 4-2 on pens)
2020: Path C semi-final: Norway 1-2 Serbia (aet)
2020: Path C semi-final: Scotland 0-0 Israel (aet, Scotland win 5-3 on pens)
2020: Path D semi-final: Georgia 1-0 Belarus
2020: Path D semi-final: North Macedonia 2-1 Kosovo
2020: Path A final: Hungary 2-1 Iceland
2020: Path B final: Northern Ireland 1-2 Slovakia (aet)
2020: Path C final: Serbia 1-1 Scotland (aet, Scotland win 5-4 on pens)
2020: Path D final: Georgia 0-1 North Macedonia

Highlights: Georgia 0-1 North Macedonia

Records and statistics

Most play-off goals

3 Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden)
3 Robbie Keane (Republic of Ireland)
3 Jon Dahl Tomasson (Denmark)
3 Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands)
3 Jon Walters (Republic of Ireland)

Biggest play-off win (tie)

Denmark 8-0 agg Israel, 1999

Biggest play-off win (match)

Netherlands 6-0 Scotland, 2003

Highest scoring play-off (tie)

Denmark 8-0 agg Israel, 1999
Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-6 agg Portugal, 2011

Highest scoring play-off (match)

Portugal 6-2 Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2011

Scoring the first goal

The side scoring first has won 22 of the 30 EURO play-off ties. The exceptions (in addition to the two that finished goalless):

2000: Slovenia 3-2 agg Ukraine (2-1 1-1)
2000: Republic of Ireland 1-1 agg Turkey (1-1 0-0, Turkey win on away goals)
2004: Scotland 1-6 agg Netherlands (1-0 0-6)
2004: Spain 5-1 agg Norway (2-1 3-0)
2020 semi-final: Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-1 Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland win 4-3 on pens)
2020 final: Hungary 2-1 Iceland

Losing the first leg

Only one team has ever lost the first leg and advanced in the EURO play-offs: in 2003, the Netherlands overturned a 1-0 defeat in Scotland with a 6-0 win at home.

Play-off hat-tricks

Ruud van Nistelrooy is the only player to score a play-off hat-trick, in the Netherlands' 6-0 second-leg win against Scotland in 2003.

Winning both legs

Only four teams have won both games of a two-legged play-off tie (out of 17):

Denmark (vs Israel, 1999)
Spain (vs Norway, 2003)
Czech Republic (vs Montenegro, 2011)
Hungary (vs Norway, 2015)

Play-off winners at EURO finals

• Semi-finals: Netherlands (2004), Portugal (2012)
• Quarter-finals: Netherlands (1996), Turkey (2000), Czech Republic (2012)
• Round of 16: Hungary (2016), Republic of Ireland (2016)

The remaining 15 play-off winners bowed out after the group stage.

EURO 2024: All you need to know

EURO play-off record 

Belarus: W0 L1
Bosnia and Herzegovina: W0 L3
Bulgaria: W0 L1
Croatia: W2 L0
Czech Republic: W1 L0
Denmark: W1 L1
England: W1 L0
Estonia: W0 L1
Georgia: W1 L1
Hungary: W3 L0
Iceland: W1 L1
Israel: W0 L2
Kosovo: W0 L1
Latvia: W1 L0
Montenegro: W0 L1
Netherlands: W2 L0
Northern Ireland: W1 L1
North Macedonia: W2 L0
Norway: W0 L3
Portugal: W1 L0
Republic of Ireland: W2 L3
Romania: W0 L1
Russia: W1 L0
Scotland: W2 L2
Serbia: W1 L1
Slovakia: W2 L0
Slovenia: W1 L2
Spain: W1 L0
Sweden: W1 L0
Turkey: W1 L2
Ukraine: W1 L1
Wales: W0 L1

Trivia

• Two teams have scored six goals in their play-off second legs: the Netherlands in 2003 and Portugal in 2011. Both would reach the semi-finals at the following summer's tournament.

• There had never been a goalless play-off tie until two happened in one night on 8 October 2020: Slovakia vs Republic of Ireland and Scotland vs Israel.

• Scotland were the first team to qualify for the EURO via a penalty shoot-out (the same method by which they got to their play-off final).

• Patrick Kluivert scored the first play-off goal: for the Dutch against the Republic of Ireland on 13 December 1995. He also scored the second.

Highlights: Serbia 1-1 Scotland (4-5 pens)

EURO play-offs: Potted history

• EURO '96: First play-off sees two runners-up with fewest points meet in one-off tie at neutral Anfield.

• EURO 2000: Two-legged play-offs introduced, four ties featuring eighth lowest-ranked qualifying group runners-up.

• EURO 2004: Two-legged play-offs involving all ten qualifying group runners-up.

• EURO 2008: No play-offs.

• EURO 2012: Return to EURO 2000 format, repeated for EURO 2016.

• EURO 2020: Once again, four play-off tickets available for final tournament, though this time sides took part based on performance in 2018/19 Nations League rather than performance in EURO qualifying groups; 16 teams contested two rounds of one-off ties.

• EURO 2024: Three finals places determined via play-off ties with participants again based on Nations League performance. In this edition, 12 teams contested two rounds of one-off ties.