England Under-19s kick off Euro Finals with win over France

Tuesday 12 Jul 2016
England Under-19s celebrate taking an early lead over France at the 2016 UEFA European Under-19 Championship Finals

England got their Under-19 Euro Finals campaign off to a winning start as two early goals put them on their way to victory over France.

An own goal from Jerome Onguene plus an excellent finish from Dominic Solanke left the Young Lions two up after just nine minutes.

France eventually composed themselves and, after pulling one back just after the half-hour, proved formidable opposition for Aidy Boothroyd's men.

England 2-1 France

2016 UEFA European Under-19 Championship Finals
6.30pm (BST), Tuesday 12 July
Albstadion, Heidenheim, Germany

But England showed courage and maturity to see the game out against a side that dropped just two points from 18 in qualifying.

Boothroyd named an attacking team for the game, so it was perhaps unsurprising that the Young Lions came flying out of the traps – and it took just 123 seconds for them to go ahead. Sheyi Ojo’s teasing cross from the right looked bound for either Solanke or Joshua Onomah, but France defender Onguene made contact first and diverted the ball beyond goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni.

Boothroyd’s men continued to pour forward and duly found a second goal before the ten-minute mark as Solanke sprung the offside trap to run clear on goal before finishing excellently.

England dominated the opening 20 minutes, with Ojo and Onomah looking particularly dangerous behind the Chelsea duo of Solanke and Isaiah Brown.

Jean-Kevin Augustin fired a warning shot at the Young Lions midway through the half as he curled towards goal, but stopper Freddie Woodman was able to parry the France attacker’s effort away from the target.

However, there was little the Newcastle goalkeeper could do to prevent Les Bleus halving the deficit on 33 minutes as Augustin got on the end of Amine Harit's free kick to acrobatically flick the ball home.

France ended the half strongly, with danger-man Augustin seeing a low effort held at the near post by Woodman a few minutes before referee Radu Petrescu brought the first period to a close.

The second half began with an injury scare for Boothroyd, as left-back Callum Connolly appeared to suffer a knee problem after getting his studs caught in the ground but the Everton man was able to carry on.

France captain Lucas Tousart then had a low effort well saved by Woodman before Les Bleus boss Ludovic Batelli decided to make a double change as they stepped up their search for an equaliser.

Clément Michelin was inches away from levelling on 63 minutes as Woodman got the slightest of touches to the right-back’s drive to turn it onto the crossbar and behind.

France went even closer moments later as a superb cross from left-back Olivier Boscagli found the head of Ludovic Blas, but the substitute’s header dropped just wide of the England goal.

That was enough to convince Boothroyd to shuffle his pack, with Connolly and Ojo replaced by Kyle Walker-Peters and Tammy Abraham.

Boothroyd’s side continued to defend resolutely, with France restricted to speculative efforts such as Harit’s low effort that flew across goal and wide of the far post as the game entered its closing stages.

The Young Lions might well have added a third goal in stoppage time as Ryan Ledson, on for Brown, picked up the ball on the counter only to be denied by a finger-tip save from Bernardoni.

Despite a final flurry of attacks from France, Boothroyd’s players were able to successfully negotiate the four added minutes to secure a campaign-opening victory that puts them second in Group B behind the Netherlands, who beat Croatia earlier in the day.

The top two will meet on Friday with the Young Lions knowing that victory would all-but secure progress to the semi-finals and, with it, a place at next year’s Under-20 World Cup.

England U19s (4-1-3-2): 1 Freddie Woodman (Newcastle United); 2 Jonjoe Kenny (Everton), 5 Taylor Moore (RC Lens – captain), 15 Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea), 3 Callum Connolly (Everton); 4 Jordan Rossiter (Rangers); 18 Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal), 10 Sheyi Ojo (Liverpool), 8 Joshua Onomah (Tottenham Hotspur); 9 Dominic Solanke (Chelsea), 11 Isaiah Brown (Chelsea)

Substitutions: 12 Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham Hotspur) for Connolly, 65; 7 Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) for Ojo, 65; 14 Ryan Ledson (Everton) for Brown, 78

Unused substitutes: 13 Sam Howes (West Ham United – goalkeeper), 6 Dael Fry (Middlesbrough), 16 Reece Oxford (West Ham United), 17 Ademola Lookman (Charlton Athletic)

Goals: Jerome Onguene (own goal – 3), Solanke (9)

Bookings: Abraham (75), Solanke (86)

Head coach: Aidy Boothroyd

By Jim Lucas