Denmark and Portugal are the first teams to book their places alongside hosts Poland in next June's finals while England moved closer with a Marcus Rashford hat-trick.
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- For the first time there will be 12 teams in the final tournament
- Hosts Poland will be joined by 11 qualifiers in the finals in June 2017
- The nine group winners qualify automatically
- The four runners-up with the best records against the sides first, third, fourth and fifth in their group will go into the play-offs for the remaining two berths
- FULL STANDINGS
- FULL FIXTURES
- Current top scorer: Patrick Schick (Czech Republic) 10 – all the statistics
Qualified: Denmark, Portugal, Poland (hosts)
Youri Tielemans' late winner in Louvain has shaken things up in Group 1. The Czech Republic would have secured qualification had they beaten Belgium, but the home side's 2-1 success after both teams had won away games several days earlier means the Red Devils are now within two points of the section leaders – and crucially have a game in hand. Both play on 7 October when Belgium visit Montenegro and the Czechs host Moldova. Then there may be a nervous Czech wait before Belgium play Latvia three days later.
Federico Di Francesco scored twice in a 3-0 victory over Andorra to leave Italy six points clear of Serbia at the head of the standings, though they are not yet certain to finish top as the sides drew both of their games 1-1. Serbia leapfrogged Slovenia into second with a 3-2 triumph against the Republic of Ireland, captain Uroš Djurdjević getting two of their goals in Novi Sad. A point for Italy in Lithuania on 11 October would be enough even if Serbia had won in Ireland four days later and then beat Slovenia, who are two points adrift in third.
Lyon's Corentin Tolisso scored twice as France won 2-0 at home against Iceland, who had started the night as group leaders. The new frontrunners are FYR Macedonia, 2-0 victors against Northern Ireland and two points ahead of France and three of Iceland (who have a game in hand). Iceland have a head-to-head advantage over FYR Macedonia so will still qualify if they win at home to Scotland and Ukraine in October.
Portugal rubber-stamped their ticket to the finals after Gelson Martins struck the only goal of their game against Greece in Barcelos. Israel are second, seven points adrift of the leaders, following a 4-0 defeat of Liechtenstein. Albania are within three points of Israel but can only overtake them if they win when the teams meat in Tikva on 10 October. Even then Albania will have needed Israel to lose their game in hand at home to Greece four days earlier. Greece and Hungary can still finish second too.
Poland beckons for Denmark after they prevailed 3-1 at home against their nearest rivals Romania. Pione Sisto put them in front on ten minutes, and the contest was effectively over by half-time as Marcus Ingvartsen netted twice in quick succession. Bulgaria in third can still finish second if they avoid defeat against Denmark then beat Romania in October.
A competitive section remains too close to call after all three contenders dropped points. Other than Spain's 6-0 defeat of San Marino every game involving the top trio was a draw: Croatia drew 1-1 with holders Sweden, who then held Spain 1-1 while Croatia drew 2-2 in Georgia. Croatia are two points clear of Sweden and three of Spain but the leaders have one game left and the other pair two. Spain visit San Marino and Sweden go to Estonia before the last games take Croatia to Sweden and match Spain with Estonia.
Sauli Väisänen's own goal in Finland spawned an eighth successive win for Germany, who are five points clear at the top with two matches to play. Austria – who drew 1-1 in Russia – are the only team that can deny them a finals place. For that they must win in the Faroe Islands on 7 October and hope Germany drop points against Russia, then four days later Austria must win at home to the leaders (the first match finished Germany 4-2 Austria).
Slovakia's position in one of the two five-team groups was strengthened on Friday when Netherlands and Belarus drew 2-2 in Minsk. Slovakia then triumphed 3-0 in Cyprus to move five points clear and they need only draw with either Belarus or Turkey next month to wrap up pole position. Only the Netherlands can still catch them and must beat Turkey and Cyprus to have any chances.
Manchester United's Marcus Rashford hit a hat-trick on his U21 debut as England defeated Norway 6-1 in Colchester, a result which lifted them two points clear at the top of the section, second-placed Switzerland unable to break down ten-man Bosnia and Herzegovina, who lost 1-0 at home to Norway when Switzerland were beating Kazakhstan 3-0. England and Norway (two points behind Switzerland) both have a game in hand in October. England will qualify if they win in Kazakhstan on 6 October regardless of what happens the following day when Switzerland visit Norway. In the last games England host Bosnia and Herzegovina while Norway visit Kazakhstan.