Gaël Kakuta's profile was already high heading into the 2010 UEFA European Under-19 Championship and he further enhanced that at the finals in Basse-Normandie, scoring two goals and creating the winner in the final.
The teenager impressed at Chelsea FC in 2009/10, making his debuts in all three domestic competitions plus the UEFA Champions League, and already had pedigree on the international stage having helped France to the 2008 European U17 Championship final. Kakuta was quick to show his hand as Les Petits Bleus opened the U19 finals against the Netherlands in Caen, opening the scoring with a fine solo strike in the 20th minute having picked up possession just inside the Dutch half.
The forward was at it again in the second game against Austria, his mazy dribble setting up Alexandre Lacazette to score the crucial second goal in what was eventually a comfortable 5-0 win for France. Kakuta was then quiet in the 1-1 draw with England which assured France of first place in Group A, although he was back in the thick of the action in the semi-finals, coming to his side's rescue when their need was greatest.
With Croatia leading through Arijan Ademi's early header, France were struggling to find a way back into the contest – but fortune smiled on the hosts eight minutes before half-time. Mario Tičinović got an attempted headed clearance completely wrong, finding only Kakuta on the edge of the area, and the forward made no mistake. Cédric Bakambu's late winner set up a final meeting with Spain, France's U17 conquerors, and Kakuta needed no motivating for the game, telling UEFA.com: "Spain are not our old friends, they are our enemies. Two years ago they trashed us 4-0 so it will be a good revenge for us. After what they did to us, everybody is looking forward to it."
Initially it seemed as if Spain would again come out on top when Rodrigo gave them the lead midway through the first half, but Gilles Sunu equalised early in the second period, setting the stage for Kakuta's late intervention. With five minutes remaining the forward bore down on the unprotected Álex and, though the goalkeeper blocked his initial effort, Kakuta had the presence of mind to retrieve possession and deliver a perfect cross to the far post, where Lacazette was waiting to head in and kick-start the home celebrations.
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