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Under-21 EURO play-offs: Israel, Croatia, Czechia, Ukraine into finals

Israel and Croatia won on penalties to progress from the play-offs along with Czechia and Ukraine, completing the finals line-up.

Israel celebrate their shoot-out win against Ireland
Israel celebrate their shoot-out win against Ireland SPORTSFILE

Israel, Croatia, Czechia and Ukraine progressed from the UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs to claim the last four spots at the 2023 finals in Romania and Georgia.

The nine qualifying group winners and the best runners-up (not counting results against sixth-placed teams) were already through to the final tournament from 21 June to 8 July 2023 alongside co-hosts Georgia and Romania. The other eight runners-up then met to contest the remaining berths.

Who has qualified?

Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, England, France, Georgia (hosts), Germany (holders), Israel, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Norway, Romania (hosts), Spain, Switzerland (best runners-up), Ukraine (play-offs)

Second legs: Tuesday 27 September

Ukraine 3-0 Slovakia (agg: 5-3)

Three goals by Danylo Sikan between the 48th and 66th minute turned the tie in Bielsko-Biała, Poland, to take the 2006 runners-up to the finals for the first time since 2011. It was the first U21 play-off hat-trick since Rodrigo struck four for Spain against Denmark ten years ago.

Czechia 0-0 Iceland (agg: 2-1)

Czechia, the 2002 champions, made full use of their first-leg lead to return to the finals for the sixth time in nine editions. Iceland had Valgeir Lunddal Fridriksson sent off in added time.

Denmark 2-1 Croatia (aet, agg: 3-3, Croatia win 5-4 on pens)

Denmark were ahead on aggregate 19 minutes in tonight after Matthew O'Riley opened the scoring and Morten Frendrup produced an incredible first-time lob from outside the box. With nine minutes left Croatia substitute Igor Matanović forced extra time and ultimately the first play-off shoot-out in 14 years. Both teams failed with their fourth kick as it went to sudden death, and Croatia keeper Dominik Kotarski denied Mathias Ross before Marco Pašalić sealed victory.

Israel 1-1 Republic of Ireland (aet, agg: 1-1, Israel win 3-1 on pens)

A goalless 120 minutes, in which both teams had chances, forced a further shoot-out. Israel goalkeeper Daniel Peretz saved Ireland's second and third kicks in between scoring himself, and although Gil Cohen then missed, Dawson Devoy hit the post and Osher Davida converted to deny Ireland in their maiden play-off.

Ukraine celebrate their return to the finals
Ukraine celebrate their return to the finalsUAF

First legs: Friday 23 September

Slovakia 3-2 Ukraine 

Slovakia took the lead in the tenth minute 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.

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.

  • 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.