France produced a scintillating display of attacking football when it mattered most to conclusively win the decisive fixture against the Netherlands 6-0, securing first place in elite round Group 1 and a berth in this summer's UEFA European Under-19 Championship.
Both teams had beaten Norway and the Czech Republic ahead of their final-day meeting in Prague, where Pierre Mankowski's team never looked back from the moment Geoffrey Kondogbia gave them a fifth-minute lead. Lucas Digne doubled the margin in the 23rd minute and Dutch hopes were effectively over when Ilan Boccara collected his second yellow card two minutes later. France ran in further goals in a flurry of second-half action with Jean-Christophe Bahebeck (56), Alexy Bosetti (58) and captain Paul Pogba (61) all on target before substitute Thibaut Vion added a crowning sixth.
The 2005 and 2010 champions had taken time to find their feet in their first fixture, Milan Lutonský giving mini-tournament hosts the Czech Republic an 18th-minute lead before Bahebeck (48) and Vion (58) turned the game in France's favour. The Netherlands also opened with a 2-1 victory, Jurgen Locadia scoring twice to secure the points against Norway, and he was also on target as the Czechs were beaten 3-0 next time out. The PSV Eindhoven forward opened the scoring in the 36th minute before Memphis Depay (76) and replacement Anass Achahbar (90+2) made the points safe.
France also picked up their second victory to keep pace with the Dutch at the head of the standings, Paris Saint-Germain FC forward Bahebeck contributing his second goal in as many outings in the 30th minute. Although Kim Skogsrud quickly levelled for Norway – who would finish third thanks to a 1-0 defeat of the Czechs in their last fixture - a quick double from substitute Bosetti (67pen, 71) gave France the points and set up that impressive display against the Dutch.
France coach Mankowski was as surprised as anybody at the one-sided result against the Netherlands. "Of course, I had expected an equal game like everybody else," he said. "Our opponents have a good team, but today we have been stronger. It is hard playing for 75 minutes with ten men like the Netherlands did and we took advantage. I'm very happy with my team today and have been during the whole tournament. We will certainly try to perform in the final tournament successfully, but we need to take steps forward."
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