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France 2 (Toletti 94, Diallo 114) England 0
after extra time
England's dream of being European Champions came to an end as two extra time goals gave a strong French side victory and their third UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship title at Parc y Scarlets.
Mo Marley's team gave their all and ran themselves into the ground in a sterling second half effort but France had that little bit extra and proved to be just too strong as the game went into the extra period.
The first clear opening came France's way when Meaghan Sargeant failed to deal with a long ball forward and Sandie Toletti was left through on goal, Lizzie Durack came to England's rescue though by denying her with a fine save.
England hit back just three minutes later though with Beth Mead outpacing Charlotte Saint Sans Levacher from a Martha Harris pass and cutting past another challenge. Her shot brought out a good diving stop from Solene Durand. Saint Sans Levacher appeared to handle the ball from the rebound and, after putting her whistle to her lips, the referee then decided not to award the penalty.
France were having the majority of the possession but without really hurting England, although five minutes before half time Kadidiatou Diani did well to keep the ball in play as she chased it down the right, she cut the ball back for an unmarked Toletti whose shot failed to hit the target.
Claire Lavogez shot wide from distance and Sargeant made a good challenge as Toletti broke into the area. The resulting corner bobbled around in the area and Melissa Lawley was well positioned to clear Toletti's shot off the line before it was scrambled away.
England had looked nervous at times but held firm under the late French pressure to take the game into the interval goalless.
At the start of the second half, England began on the front foot and Nikita Parris almost got in from a long Paige Williams pass but Aissatou Tounkara did enough to prevent her from getting in a shot.
England won a free kick in a dangerous position on the left following another foul on Mead and Katie Zelem's floated delivery almost found the head of Parris but Durand did well to claw the ball away under pressure.
Williams tried to catch out Durand with a quickly taken free kick but the French keeper saved her effort comfortably. The full back caused more problems with an inswinging corner but again Durand did well to punch away when challenged by two England players.
Parris tried her luck with a long range shot which was just off target and then Mead did well to dispossess Durand in the area as she dallied on the ball following a back pass but the angle was just too acute for her shot and it rolled across the face of goal before Dafeur was able to clear.
At the other end, Durack saved a Tounkara header from a corner but England responded well, a good passing move ending with Zelem forcing a diving save from Durand. The resulting corner, taken by Williams, just eluded Sargeant in front of goal as she tried to head home.
Extra time began with Durack making an excellent save from a Tounkara header, however the England keeper could do nothing moments later from another corner, Toletti's downward header taking a deflection off Mannion and looping over Durack and Hannah Blundell on its way in to the net.
Lea Declercq should really have made it two as she ran clear on goal from Diani's header but once again the outstanding Durack stood up to make another crucial save.
France had another great chance to wrap things up early in the second half when Durack and Mannion could only half clear a cross, Toletti returned the ball into the middle for the oncoming Aminata Diallo who miscued her shot in front of goal.
England tried hard to rally and employed four forwards in an attempt to salvage the game but France struck a huge blow with six minutes remaining. Faustine Robert swept the ball into the area for Declercq whose initial shot hit Mannion in the face but DIallo followed up and this time made no mistake by heading beyond the reach of Durack for the second goal.
Robert had a chance for a third following more good work by Declercq but Durack once more pulled off a great save. A desperately tired England side's challenge had run its course and France were able to see the game out for the title.
The England players looked dejected as they received their silver medals but, in the weeks to come, will look back on a tournament where they probably exceeded expectations. They gave everything they could, typified by captain Sherry McCue who won countless tackles and covered huge amounts of the pitch until succumbing to cramp during extra time.
The back four all played well once again and Zelem showed good touches in midfield, while Mead had an excellent game up front after having been battered by two powerful defenders all match. Many of the England squad are young enough to play in next season's tournament as well as the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Canada, so it is to be hoped that they can improve further.
England: Lizzie Durack, Martha Harris, Paige Williams, Katie Zelem, Aoife Mannion, Meaghan Sargeant, Melissa Lawley (sub Hannah Blundell 72mins), Sherry McCue (sub Jade Bailey 109mins), Nikita Parris, Jess Sigsworth, Beth Mead. Subs not used: Megan Walsh, Felicity Gibbons, Natasha Flint, Abbey-Leigh Stringer, Ellie Stewart.
France: Solene Durand, Aurelie Gagnet, Marine Dafeur, Aissatou Tounkara, Charlotte Saint Sans Levacher, Aminata Diallo, Claire Lavogez (sub Faustine Robert 67mins), Clarisse Le Bihan (sub Lea Declercq 79mins), Kadidiatou Diani, Sandie Toletti, Ghoutia Karchouni. Subs not used: Tanya De Souza, Charlene Gorce, Alexandra Atamaniuk, Lindsey Thomas.
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Simone Durand denies Nikita Parris by punching clear under pressure
(middle) Sandie Toletti's deflected header loops over a helpless Lizzie Durack for the opening goal
(bottom) Joy unconfined as the French squad celebrate winning the title
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