France will take most comfort from a 1-1 draw against Germany in Magdeburg after Younes Kaboul's 23rd-minute strike cancelled out Ashkan Dejagah's earlier effort in the first leg of this play-off for a place in the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
Dejagah put Germany in front on 14 minutes but the lead was short-lived with Kaboul replying soon after to set up an intriguing second leg in Metz next Wednesday. Dieter Eilts's side appeared nervous from the outset yet the mood at the Ernst-Grube Stadion soon improved as the hosts began to create chances. Aaron Hunt spurned an opening on ten minutes, Sami Khedira also came close before Dejagah made the breakthrough with a deflected left-foot shot from the edge of the area.
Kaboul hits back
France equalised nine minutes later following a mistake by Manuel Neuer who was back in the team following injury. The goalkeeper misjudged a corner, allowing Kaboul to head in and bring France level. Germany started to lose their grip on proceedings following the goal and struggled to apply meaningful pressure. There was little home improvement after the interval either, as France continued to look dangerous on the break. Mesut Özil had the best opportunity for Germany at the mid-point of the second half but failed to hit the target with a shot from 12 metres, so the momentum passed to France for Wednesday's second leg.
Though disappointed with the result, Germany coach Eilts insisted his side were not out of the tie. "We were well in control of the game and played well until they scored," he said. "After the equaliser we lost our rhythm and not much else worked for us. With a 1-1 draw it's certainly not all over and I'm still convinced we will qualify for the European Championship."