'We deserved the result'
Sunday, 25 July, 2010
Blake delighted at Euro semi-final spot and place in World Cup.
Noel Blake guided his team into the semi-finals of the European U19 Championship on Saturday, with a thrilling finale to the game with France ending in a thoroughly deserved draw.
In what was an enthralling game from start to finish, played in tremendous spirit and with some excellent football on show from both teams, England left it late to equalise with substitute Matt Phillips popping up in added time to smash home an equaliser.
It was no less than what the Young Lions deserved after playing more than an equal role against the host nation and a fervent French crowd backing them.
The last 20 minutes or so were dominated by England, who created numerous chances and forced goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo into a number of good saves so there was delight all-round when Phillips scored the leveller.
England could well have still progressed with a defeat, due to the result between Holland and Austria, but the celebrations in Saint-Lo and the added team spirit after the game could prove to be so important.
“We kept going, and I thought that was as well as we’ve played so far in the competition,” said Blake.
“I felt we deserved the result on reflection and obviously it was good enough to take us through to the semi-final.
“The lads never gave up, played some good football and we created some good chances throughout.
“Their goalkeeper has made some saves too, but we kept at them and got what we deserved in the end.”
Of course, Blake was a part of the coaching staff last year when the U19s went all the way to the European Championship Final in Ukraine and not only has he now reached the knock-out stages, but England have also sealed their place in next year’s FIFA U20 World Cup in Colombia.
“When we came here, our first objective was to qualify for the U20 World Cup, which we’ve done,” he added. “Then it was to go as far as we can in this competition.
“So we’re in the semi-final, we’re pleased with that and we’ll take it from there and the next objective is to reach the Final now.”
They will return to Saint-Lo for that match on Tuesday afternoon, where they will meet Spain who finished Group B with nine points to seal top spot.
But France came into this game on the back of two impressive results and Blake knows that at this stage of an international competition, it is always going to be difficult.
“It’s a European semi-final and any team that you play in the last four is going to be hard,” he said.
“We’ve played Spain at several levels over the years and we know what they’re about and they will know about us.
“It’s another game, and we’ll go into it with confidence.”