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Under-21 EURO: Drama as group stage ends

Croatia's last-gasp goal meant they, Denmark, France and Portugal joined Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and holders Spain in the 31 May quarter-finals.

Croatia scored in added time to pip England to the quarter-finals
Croatia scored in added time to pip England to the quarter-finals The FA via Getty Images

Croatia, Denmark, France and Portugal progressed as the UEFA European Under-21 Championship group stage ended on Wednesday to join holders Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy in booking returns to Hungary and Slovenia for the knockout phase on 31 May.

Denmark, France and Portugal all knew wins would seal progress and comfortably achieved that aim. Croatia, though, needed a stunning added-time Domagoj Bradarić strike to crucially pull one back in a 2-1 loss against England, who had required a two-goal margin of victory to pip their opponents.

Watch all the highlights

On Tuesday, a 6-1 triumph over co-hosts Hungary had placed the Netherlands first in Group A, meaning they will face France, while Germany got the draw they were chasing to pip Romania to a Denmark tie. Spain won Group B – and will play Croatia – after beating Czech Republic 2-0. Italy ended the debut hopes of co-hosts Slovenia, prevailing 4-0 to set up a Portugal encounter.

Knockout ties

Monday 31 May: Quarter-finals
Netherlands vs France (Budapest)
Denmark vs Germany (Székesfehérvár)
Spain vs Croatia (Maribor)
Portugal vs Italy (Ljubljana)

Thursday 3 June: Semi-finals
SF1: Netherlands/France vs Denmark/Germany (Székesfehérvár)
SF2: Spain/Croatia vs Portugal/Italy (Maribor)

Sunday 6 June: Final
Winner SF1 vs Winner SF2 (Ljubljana)

Final group standings

Wednesday's games

Group C:
Iceland 0-2 France
(Győr)
France advanced to the quarter-finals as Group C runners-up after ruining Iceland's faint hopes. Mattéo Guendouzi opened the scoring in the 17th minute, sweeping home Alexis Claude-Maurice's cross, before Odsonne Édouard doubled the lead prior to the interval, dinking over Elias Rafn Olafsson from Faitout Maouassa's expert pass. The 2019 semi-finalists stood firm in the second period to secure progress to face the Dutch.

Highlights: Denmark 3-0 Russia
Highlights: Denmark 3-0 Russia

Denmark 3-0 Russia (Szombathely)
Denmark finished the group with a perfect record after racing into an early two-goal lead for the second match running, Jacob Bruun Larsen and Anders Dreyer scoring within the space of a minute. Both goals were fashioned by Jesper Lindstrøm, first playing a slide-rule pass for Bruun Larsen to drill low past Aleksandr Maksimenko, before squaring for Dreyer to side-foot in off the keeper’s outstretched foot. Russia rallied, but despite creating the better chances thereafter, found the Danish defence, once again, in miserly mood. Finally, substitute Carlo Holse struck in the 90th minute to cap an outstanding group performance by the team who next take on Germany.

Group D:
Croatia 1-2 England
(Koper-Capodistria)
A super late strike by left-back Domagoj Bradarić took Croatia through by the narrowest of margins. Before the game, England knew they needed a two-goal win and a Swiss defeat by Portugal to pip Croatia on a three-way head-to-head; and despite not having scored in their two previous group outings, they dominated from the off. England hit the crossbar through Curtis Jones before Eberechi Eze grabbed the opener from the spot after Eddie Nketiah was fouled. Dwight McNeil struck a post as England continued to push before Jones rifled in what looked the decisive goal for qualification. However, Bradarić let fly an unstoppable effort from 25 metres in stoppage time to send Croatia into the last eight for the first time, with holders Spain awaiting them.

Watch the late stunner that put Croatia through
Watch the late stunner that put Croatia through

Switzerland 0-3 Portugal (Ljublajana)
Portugal set up a quarter-final with Italy after Diogo Queirós's early header put them en route to claiming first place with maximum points. Francisco Trincāo tapped in the second to sap Swiss morale before Francisco Conceição – son of Porto coach Sergio – came off the bench to add a third as Rui Jorge's men joined Denmark in qualifying with a 100% record. Switzerland, who finished with ten men after Miro Muheim's two yellow cards, bowed out in third place, behind Croatia in accordance with their direct head-to-head result.

Tuesday's games

Group A

Netherlands 6-1 Hungary (Székesfehérvár)
Goals just either side of half-time set the Jong Oranje on their way to the quarter-finals, overtaking Germany and Romania on a three-way head-to-head. Dani de Wit got the first, set up by Cody Gakpo, who was then fouled in the area and Myron Boadu dispatched the penalty. Gakpo soon scored the third and fourth – his strikes sandwiching a Bendegúz Bolla spot kick for Hungary – first firing home from distance following slick interplay with Boadu, next stroking home a Deyovaisio Zeefuik cross. Sven Botman and substitute Brian Brobbey both added extra sheen to the scoreline late on.

Highlights: Netherlands 6-1 Hungary
Highlights: Netherlands 6-1 Hungary

Germany 0-0 Romania (Budapest)
Winners in 2017 and runners-up in 2019, Germany secured the point they needed to reach the 2021 quarter-finals. Lukas Nmecha rattled the post with a penalty in the 72nd minute, before Amos Pieper headed on to the bar late on, but Germany remained solid at the back after Romania's fast start. Alexandru Măţan struck the post in those opening stages with his team's best chance as they missed out on the win they required, pipped – even though unbeaten – by their opponents on goal difference.

Group B

Spain 2-0 Czech Republic (Celje)
Dani Gómez came off the bench in the second half to send the defending champions through as pool winners. La Rojita had found the going tough against a well-drilled Czech outfit who knew a victory could guarantee their own progress at the Spaniards' expense. That ambition was denied by the Levante striker's ten-minute double which ensured Luis de la Fuente's men progressed from pole position.

Highlights: Spain 2-0 Czech Republic
Highlights: Spain 2-0 Czech Republic

Italy 4-0 Slovenia (Maribor)
Italy claimed the three points they needed to continue their bid for a sixth title as the co-hosts' debut finals campaign was curtailed. Clinical finishes from Giulio Maggiore and Giacomo Raspadori put Gli Azzurrini two up within 19 minutes and then Patrick Cutrone made it three from the spot. Igor Vekić did save a Cutrone penalty before the break but the forward notched his second just after half-time from distance. Italy substitute Riccardo Marchizza was dismissed late on.

Where to watch the knockout phase