After leading England into Sunday's UEFA European Under-17 Championship final against Spain with a 2-1 win against France, manager John Peacock hailed the contribution of two-goal striker Connor Wickham, who had not scored before in Liechtenstein, but also praised the mental strength of their beaten opponents. France coach Guy Ferrier said his team had lost discipline tactically in the first half, when they fell two down, but added: "The second half was better, more discipline, more chances, and we could have made it 2-2."
John Peacock, England manager
I'm obviously very pleased we managed to make the final.
I always knew it would be a very tough game today against France, the mental character of their side is very strong. I felt we started very well, and was very pleased to go in 2-0 up. And I said to my players it was very important for the first 20 minutes not to concede a goal. But France came out a lot stronger, their mental strength was there for everyone to see, and there were chances at both ends but they put us under pressure in the last 15 minutes.
[Connor] has been very strong, led the line very well. He was a bit frustrated he hadn't scored before, we talked to him individually – as we do all the players – saying to keep doing the right things and hitting the target and who knows, it will come. His two finishes were first class, I'm very pleased for him. We've managed to secure our final place, we've never won the U17 final. It's been a real objective for this group to reach the final. We've done that now and we'll continue to prepare properly for the next few days and hopefully take that U17 title that France, Turkey and Spain have done before us.
Guy Ferrier, France coach
Congratulations to England, good luck in the final. This game was all about small details and my 17-year-old players, maybe they wanted to play outside our tactical plan that I set in place. Maybe that's why we were 2-0 down at the break and then it was really difficult. The second half was better, more discipline, more chances, and we could have made it 2-2 – then in extra time, who knows? It's a real pity we lost this semi-final but we lost against a really strong team in England.
The mistakes tactically were in midfield. They knew England liked to have the ball in midfield, to control the game, but on two occasions they were attacking and were slow to come back, playing too high, and conceded two goals.
We paid for these mistakes in cash and these mistakes did not happen in the second half, which allowed us to come back into the game.
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