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U21 EURO best runner-up: Germany deny Slovakia

The three group winners in Poland all clinched a place in the last four of the U21 EURO, but how did Germany pip Slovakia and Portugal for the last semi-finalist be decided?

Germany celebrate during their victory over Denmark
Germany celebrate during their victory over Denmark ©Getty Images

With 12 teams split into three groups at U21 EURO, only one runner-up would join the pool winners in the semi-finals.

What criteria was used to separate the trio of second-placed teams?

a) higher number of points;

Slovakia narrowly missed out
Slovakia narrowly missed out©Getty Images

b) superior goal difference;

c) higher number of goals scored;

d) lower disciplinary points total based only on yellow and red cards received in all group matches (red card = 3 points, yellow card = 1 point, expulsion for two yellow cards in one match = 3 points);

e) position in the UEFA Under-21 national team coefficient ranking for the final draw.

This is according to Article 18.03 of the Regulations of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship, 2015-17.

How the U21 EURO runners-up ended
How the U21 EURO runners-up ended©

How it unfolded

Going into the final day, Slovakia were the best second-placed side on goal difference (+3), with Portugal unable to go through from Group B (+2).

Italy couldn't finish as best runners-up as in the only scenario in which they could have come second, their overall goal difference would be inferior to Slovakia's. The Azzurrini defeated Germany, though, and Germany's goal difference of +4 took them through!