Victor Moses sent England into the European Championship Final where they will meet Spain.
England 1-0 France
UEFA U17 Championship Finals
Thursday 10 May 2007
England are just 80 minutes away from winning their first major tournament in 14 years following a nerve-wracking win over France on Thursday night.
Leading through Victor Moses' 11th minute strike, England had to defend like lions in the second half as the rampant French threatened to ruin the party.
But they hung on, with centre-halves Jordan Spence and Krystian Pearce to the fore, and will play Spain in the Final on Sunday.
When England last played France, back in February, they were forced to settle for a draw after Thibault Bourgeois pierced the Lions' defence. There was an element of deja vu when the same player had the first shot although Middlesbrough keeper Jason Steele watched it trickle wide.
Henri Lansbury, confident after his stunning 25 yard strike against Holland three days earlier, showed his appetite to shoot from long range a minute later. His radar was a little awry this time, the ball flying over the crossbar.
Moses showed his team-mate how to do it on 11 minutes, although England's opener had much to do with their lively left-winger Danny Rose.
The Leeds youngster, who gave right-back Nicolas Seguin a torrid evening, outstripped his marker before delivering a sublime cross to the far post. Rhys Murphy's towering header cannoned into the post but the ball rebounded to Palace forward Moses who finished emphatically from 12 yards. Cue the trademark somersault celebration.
Having been the width of the post away from scoring himself, Arsenal's Murphy went close again on 23 minutes.
After England had stolen possession, Murphy cantered down the inside right channel before aiming a shot which seemed destined for the bottom corner. French keeper Joris Delle had other ideas however, palming the ball wide at full stretch.
England continued to dominate with Rose, Moses and Murphy looking dangerous when the Lions attacked. Behind them, the steadying influence of Michael Woods and Lansbury provided the forwards with a constant supply of ammunition.
A feature was England's ability to attack with pace, particularly after France had lost possession. On one such occasion, Moses charged through the middle and using Murphy as his decoy, cut inside before Lansbury, perhaps getting in his team-mate's path, stole the ball and curled agonisingly wide.
Rose remained a real handful and he went close on 34 minutes. Bustling past the hapless Seguin, Rose bore down on goal before letting fly with a powerful shot which Delle did well to beat out.
Just like they did against Holland, England began the second half worryingly, presenting France with a wonderful chance less than two minutes after the restart.
Chelsea's Woods relinquished possession which led to Bourgeois fizzing a dangerous cross into the England box. Steele stuttered allowing Damien Le Tallec to nip in but he could only deflect the ball wide.
England's plans suffered a disruption minutes later when Lansbury went down in the heap after being hit flush in the face with the ball. After a lengthy delay, the Arsenal man was stretchered off to be replaced by Tom Taiwo.
Peacock's mini injury crisis worsened when Joseph Mattock limped off with Arsenal's Gavin Hoyte coming off the bench to replace him. It was England's third substitution after Jonathan Franks came on for Tristain Plummer at half-time.
The changes resulted in England losing their first half rhythm - something the French were quick to capitalise on and they were just inches away from equalising on 64 minutes.
Bourgeois' corner arched past the wandering Steele to Mamadou Sakho who sent a header thudding against the bar.
The French pressure continued with Bourgeois' set-pieces causing concern in the English ranks. His 66th minute free-kick was headed just wide by Taiwo, the Chelsea man a yard away from an embarrassing own goal.
Still Les Blues pressed forward. Le Tallec twisted and turned in the English box before laying the ball off to the tough-tackling Marial Riff whose side-footed effort was comfortably dealt with by Steele.
England had to dig deep once the fourth official signalled eight minutes of injury-time, with Spence's last ditch tackle on Le Tallec a masterful piece of defending.
The rampant French sent another shot across the boughs when Seguin fired narrowly wide.
English hearts were fluttering in the sixth minute of added time. Caught dilly-dallying in possession, the Lions presented Bourgeois with a great chance but with just Steele to beat, he pushed his shot wide.
Bourgeious then missed another gilt-edged chance, nodding over from close range with just seconds left.
England: Steele, Ofori-Twumasi, Mattock (Hoyte 59), Pearce, Spence, Moses, Lansbury (Taiwo 52), Plummer (Franks 41), Woods, Rose, Murphy.
Subs not used: Welbeck, Smithies, Gosling, Porritt.
Goals: Moses 11