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Coaches reflect on 'superb' semi-final

Published: Thursday 12 July 2012, 23.43CET
While France's Pierre Mankowski looked back on a "tournament full of positives", victorious Spain coach Julen Lopetegui celebrated coming through "a beautiful contest".
by Paul Bryan
from Lilleküla Stadium
Coaches reflect on 'superb' semi-final
France coach Pierre Mankowski (left) and Spain's Julen Lopetegui after the semi-final ©Sportsfile
Published: Thursday 12 July 2012, 23.43CET

Coaches reflect on 'superb' semi-final

While France's Pierre Mankowski looked back on a "tournament full of positives", victorious Spain coach Julen Lopetegui celebrated coming through "a beautiful contest".

Julen Lopetegui, Spain coach
I congratulate my team for overcoming the many difficulties in the game. I would also like to congratulate France for making this a beautiful contest. It was very similar to the match we played against Portugal. France have a great team and are physically tremendous. They punished us with their strength in the air. My team showed personality, character and confidence, however.

With their attitude and quality the team knew they could turn the situation around. There is a lot of character and personality in the side
Julen Lopetegui
I am very proud of my team. We have given a good account of ourselves and it would have been a truly beautiful evening had we qualified for the final
Pierre Mankowski

We deserved the win, to be honest. We got through on penalties, that's always a lottery, but we deserved to progress. I told the players at half-time that they could do this and not to be afraid. With their attitude and quality the team knew they could turn the situation around. There is a lot of character and personality in the side despite them being so young.

Greece will be a very difficult challenge in the final. They beat Portugal and with ten men knocked out England. They have huge heart and are enjoying themselves in this tournament.

Pierre Mankowski, France coach
We played really well. Overall it was a superb game from both teams. There was a lot of potential on both sides, lots of willingness and enthusiasm too, and then when you get to penalties, it is a bit down to luck.

The injury [to striker Jean-Christophe Baheback in the first half] changed things. If he had stayed on, we would have been a bit stronger in attack. We lost a bit of everything, and at the same time it meant we were forced into a change very quickly. I did not then have any other options on the bench in extra time.

We never stopped and that is what pleased me most about my team – we never gave up. Spain are a good team and they have won on penalties, which is a shame, but the tournament is full of positives for us. I am very proud of my team. We have given a good account of ourselves and it would have been a truly beautiful evening had we qualified for the final.

I told the Spain coach that we will see them again at the [2013 FIFA U-20] World Cup. The lads are very, very disappointed - it is very sad in the dressing room.

Last updated: 13/07/12 0.18CET

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