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Holders France lead U17 finals lineup

Holders France, Denmark, Scotland, Ukraine, England, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Austria, Serbia, Belgium and Spain have joined hosts Azerbaijan.

France celebrate their winner against Iceland
France celebrate their winner against Iceland ©Philippe Le Brech / FFF

A last-minute goal from Austria to beat France on Sunday ensured they joined the holders and 13 other nations in progressing to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals alongside hosts Azerbaijan, with Poland the unlucky eighth runner-up missing out. The draw is on Friday at 10.00CET (12.00 local time) and the finals in May.

Group 1:
Denmark, Scotland
Group 2: Ukraine, England
Group 3: Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Group 4: Germany, Netherlands
Group 5: Portugal, Sweden
Group 6: France (holders), Austria
Group 7: Serbia
Group 8: Belgium, Spain
Hosts: Azerbaijan

• The eight group winners and the seven runners-up with the best records against the teams first and third in their section have joined hosts Azerbaijan in the finals.

• In the draw Azerbaijan will be placed in position 1 of Group A and the seven best elite round section winners (excluding Belgium) will be in Pot 1 and drawn to fill the remaining positions 1 and 2 in the four finals groups. The remaining teams go into Pot 2 and to fill positions 3 and 4.

Draw: 8 April
Group stage: 5/6, 8/9, 11/12 May
Quarter-finals: 14/15 May
Semi-finals: 18 May
Final: 21 May


Elite round summary
Group 1: Denmark, Scotland
Denmark's qualification was comfortable after clinching first place with a game to spare by beating Scotland 4-0 and Switzerland 2-1 thanks to an added-time Nicklas Strunck Jakobsen goal. But Scotland, having defeated hosts the Czech Republic 2-1 to recover from the opening loss, were taken to the wire for a third straight qualification. They knew a win against Switzerland would guarantee qualification as a best runner-up, and did lead, only to draw 1-1 after conceding eight minutes from time. Now they needed the team they beat to overtake Switzerland with a win, and an added-time goal by Michal Sadílek meant the Czechs did beat Denmark 3-2 to the delight of Scotland.

  • Key player: Jens Odgaard (Denmark, forward)

Odgaard scored a hat-trick against Scotland, twice after making powerful runs against the defence and producing very sharp and precise finishes, and did something similar against the Czech Republic, ending as elite round top scorer. Denmark look also very strong in the attack with Jonas Older Wind and Jeppe Okkels.

Group 2: Ukraine, England
The two qualifiers were decided with a game to go as Ukraine and England both defeated Finland and Turkey. First place went to Ukraine on goal difference after they came from behind to hold hosts England 1-1.

  • Key player: Serhiy Buletsa (Ukraine, midfielder)

Buletsa managed three goals in total against Finland and Turkey before showing his ability on the counterattack in the draw with England.

Bosnia and Herzegovina made history
Bosnia and Herzegovina made history©Lasha Kuprashvili

Group 3: Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina
It ended up in a three-way tie in Tbilisi as Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russia all shared a win and a loss as well as beating hosts Georgia. That meant a tie-break not counting the Georgia results and Italy took top spot ahead of a Bosnia and Herzegovina side celebrating a first qualification.

  • Key players: Moise Kean (Italy, forward) & Nedim Hadžić (Bosnia and Herzegovina, forward)

Juventus trainee Kean's two goals in Italy's ultimately decisive 4-0 win against ten-man Russia was the decisive contribution in the group, a deserved reward for a versatile striker and winger in the style of Thierry Henry who made his debut in this season's UEFA Youth League aged 15. FK Sarajevo prospect Hadžić played only 24 minutes against Italy but scored the winning goal two days before turning 17; the afternoon after his birthday he also got the equaliser in the 2-1 loss against Russia, who had needed to win by three to pip Bosnia and Herzegovina to Azerbaijan.

Jano Baxmann gets Germany's winner against the Netherlands
Jano Baxmann gets Germany's winner against the Netherlands©Getty Images

Group 4: Germany, Netherlands
Germany and Netherlands met on the final day in a rematch of the 2009, 2011 and 2012 finals, with both having beaten Slovakia and drawn against Bulgaria. As in 2009, hosts Germany overcame the Dutch 1-0. That gave Germany first place but the Netherlands were assured a best runners-up berth as the side they beat, Slovakia, overcame Bulgaria 3-0 to finish third.

  • Key players: Jano Baxmann (Germany, forward) & Justin Kluivert (Netherlands, forward)

Werder Bremen prospect Baxmann got three goals including the winner against the Netherlands and formed a fine partnership with Renat Dadachov, whose elder brother Rüfat plays for Azerbaijan at senior level. Kluivert, following in his father Patrick's footsteps at Ajax, was a constant menace to opposing defences with his passes and styling play.

Group 5: Portugal, Sweden
Portugal clinched first place in the section with one game to spare, beating Sweden 2-0 and Wales 1-0 before a 4-2 defeat of hosts Croatia. Sweden and Wales had also beaten Croatia, and both knew victory when they met on the final day would take them to Azerbaijan. Alexander Isak scored with 21 minutes to go to ensure Sweden won 1-0 and denied Wales a finals debut.

  • Key player: José Gomes (Portugal, forward)

The 16-year-old scored seven goals in five UEFA Youth League games for Benfica this season at U19 level and starred in the first two games of this mini-tournament, striking against Sweden and getting the winner versus Wales.

Austria celebrate their last-gasp qualification
Austria celebrate their last-gasp qualification©Philippe Le Brech / FFF

Group 6: France, Austria
Defending champions France were through on home soil with a game to spare after beating Greece and Iceland 1-0. Austria had drawn 0-0 with each of that pair but knew in the last game of the round on Sunday that a win would take them through. They came from behind to beat France 2-1 with a Romano Schmid goal deep in added time.

  • Key player: Kristofer Kristinsson (Iceland, midfielder)

Iceland may have missed out on the finals but left-winger Kristinsson was a nightmare for every full-back he faced. He also showed maturity in decision-making, knowing when to take on an opponent and when to pass. Especially stood out in the fine team performance that produced the 2-1 win against Greece.

Group 7: Serbia
Serbia, like Denmark, Portugal and France, had first place wrapped up after two games, beating the Republic of Ireland 2-0 and hosts Poland 2-1, capping their success by with a 2-0 defeat of a Montenegro side who had lost both their previous matches. Poland and Ireland were dead level going into a last game where both knew a win over 80 minutes would mean qualification. However they drew 0-0 and as a tie-break went to penalties, Poland winning 4-3. That, though, was not enough for Poland, though the following day they seemed set to be the seventh best runner-up when Iceland were heading for second place in Group 6, only for Austria to snatch that position and the last qualifying berth.

  • Key player: Stefan Ilić (Serbia, midfielder)

A fast left-winger (not to be confused with the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup winner of the same name) was able always to create enough space for himself to threaten the opponents' defence. He was involved in the majority of Serbian attacks and scored in the wins against Ireland and Poland.

Belgium beat Spain on penalties
Belgium beat Spain on penalties©David Catry

Group 8: Belgium, Spain
Going into the final day, hoss Belgium and Spain had both beaten Israel 1-0 and drawn 0-0 with Slovenia. That meant if Belgium and Spain drew they would have a penalty shoot-out for first place, so long as Slovenia did not beat Israel. And Israel held Slovenia 1-1 with an equaliser six minutes from the end, while it was goalless between Belgium and Spain. The shoot-out went the way of Belgium, Mile Svilar saving two penalties as his side won 4-3. As this was the first group to play, Spain were left waiting for more than two weeks before their place was finally secure after Poland and Ireland themselves drew to go to penalties.

  • Key player: Zinho Vanheusden (Belgium, defender)

Internazionale Milano defender Vanheusden captained Belgium to first place and with his determination, strength and height was rarely beaten, as proved against Spain where he crucially converted in the shoot-out just after the first saved kick.

Key facts
• France will be one of four nations going for a record third U17 title along with England, the Netherlands and Spain, who also won the old U16 Championship six times.

• Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina have both qualified for the first time, meaning that 38 of UEFA's 54 member nations will have been represented in at least one of the 15 U17 final tournaments.

• England have qualified for the 11th time in 15 final tournaments, one ahead of France, the Netherlands and Spain.

• Season top scorer: João Filipe (Portugal) 7

• Elite round top scorer: Jens Odgaard (Denmark) 4