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England and France delivered an absorbing contest in Llanelli but no goals as their Group A curtain-raiser ended in stalemate on day one of the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship.
The closest either of the cross-Channel rivals came to a breakthrough was Léa Declercq's second-half penalty for France which Elizabeth Durack pushed behind to safety. As it was, neither country could force a goal, leaving them both two points behind Wales's opening-day conquerors Denmark in the section.
An early raid by Jessica Sigsworth and Natasha Flint spelled danger for a France side featuring several of the squad that won last autumn's FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Azerbaijan. Where England had a willing runner in Sigsworth, France could call on Declercq and when the surging No11 received a return pass from Kadidiatou Diani, she rolled a shot centimetres wide.
Solène Durand fielded Flint's volley while, in a moment to punctuate the general pressing and probing, Declercq turned supplier for Diani only for Durack to save at her feet. Durack's goal was threatened again as Alexandra Atamaniuk's header was deflected narrowly behind following a Sandie Toletti cross. Slowly but surely, Gilles Eyquem's team were producing the form that yielded three consecutive wins in qualifying.
England coach Mo Marley had spoken beforehand of her side's inexperience – and resulting inconsistency – yet by the half-time whistle they had answered all the questions posed them by their perhaps more battle-hardened French peers. Come the restart, however, the crossbar was required to repel a cross-cum-shot from French substitute Faustine Robert.
When Robert caused Paige Williams to handle inside her area, it was Durack's turn to rescue England – diving to her right to turn away Declercq's spot kick. Marley made a change of her own, introducing Nikita Parris, and the No9's presence spurred the British team on. Sigsworth's persistence was partly rewarded with a half-chance that Durand blocked; no such luck for France playmaker Toletti whose wonderfully executed lob rattled a post.
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