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Under-21 EURO play-off first legs: Ireland and Israel draw; Croatia, Slovakia, Czechia ahead

Republic of Ireland and Israel drew 1-1 while Croatia, Slovakia and Czechia all won their first legs with the returns on Tuesday.

Evan Ferguson celebrates his equaliser for Ireland against Israel
Evan Ferguson celebrates his equaliser for Ireland against Israel SPORTSFILE

The UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs are deciding the last four spots at the 2023 finals in Romania and Georgia.

The nine qualifying group winners and the best runner-up (not counting results against sixth-placed teams) are through to the final tournament from 21 June to 8 July 2023 alongside co-hosts Georgia and Romania. The other eight runners-up now meet to contest the remaining berths with the second legs on Tuesday.

Meet the play-off contenders

First legs: Friday 23 September

Slovakia 3-2 Ukraine 

Slovakia led on ten minutes when Tomáš Suslov struck on the rebound after his penalty had been saved by Anatoliy Trubin but Bohdan Viunnyk quickly equalised. Dávid Strelec scored just 25 seconds after the break with a fine solo effort and repeated the trick following Dmyto Kryskiv's quick reply, giving Slovakia a lead to take to Bielsko-Biała, Poland on Tuesday.

Tomáš Suslov celebrates opening the scoring for Slovakia
Tomáš Suslov celebrates opening the scoring for SlovakiaSlovak Football Association

Croatia 2-1 Denmark 

Gabriel Vidović and Dion Drena Beljo put Croatia 2-0 up at the break but just before the hour Casper Tengstedt reduced arrears for Denmark.

Iceland 1-2 Czechia 

Iceland were ahead in the 26th minute thanks to Sævar Atli Magnússon's penalty. Matěj Valenta soon levelled for Czechia and Václav Sejk's 70th-minute effort ensured they returned home with the lead.

Republic of Ireland 1-1 Israel 

Idan Gorno scored for Israel just before half-time but Evan Ferguson headed play-off debutants Ireland level in the 65th minute. Israel had Slav Lemkin shown a straight red card with ten minutes left but they held on to draw.

Second legs: Tuesday 27 September

Ukraine vs Slovakia (17:30, first leg 2-3)
Denmark vs Croatia (18:00, first leg 1-2)
Czechia vs Iceland (18:00, first leg 2-1)
Israel vs Republic of Ireland (19:15, first leg 1-1)

All times CET.

  • Czechia were champions in 2002.
  • Ukraine were 2006 runners-up.
  • Croatia, Czechia, Denmark and Iceland all took part in the 2021 finals.
  • Ireland are in the play-offs for the first time and could become the second debutants in 2023 along with Georgia.

Who is already in the finals?

Belgium, England, France, Georgia (hosts), Germany (holders), Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Norway, Romania (hosts), Spain, Switzerland (best runners-up)