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Inventive Edouard double inspires France

France 3-0 Italy
Odsonne Edouard scored two exquisite back-heeled goals as Les Petit Bleus delivered a statement of intent in their Stara Zagora quarter-final.

Highlights: France 3-0 Italy
Highlights: France 3-0 Italy

Odsonne Edouard scores in each half in a convincing victory for France
His goals sandwich Nanitamo Ikone's 53rd-minute second in Stara Zagora
Edouard is the finals' four-goal top scorer, one ahead of Felix Passlack and Ismail Azzaoui
Patrick Cutrone and Gianluca Scamacca spurn glorious chances for Italy 
France play Belgium in the last four; Italy meet Croatia in FIFA U-17 World Cup play-offs

A back-heeled double from Odsonne Edouard and a fine header by Nanitamo Ikone secured France a UEFA European Under-17 Championship semi-final meeting with Belgium.

Italy had no answer to the ingenuity of Paris Saint-Germain forward Edouard, now the top scorer in Bulgaria with four goals. Ikone's strike, which doubled the lead, came two minutes after Patrick Cutrone was denied by a superb one-one-one stop from Les Petit Bleus keeper Luca Zidane.

France immediately forced Bruno Tedino's side on to the back foot and should have opened the scoring within four minutes, Edouard heading Christ-Emmanuel Maouassa's cross over the bar. Edouard made amends – and in some style – less than 60 seconds later by producing an audacious finish from winger Ikone's centre.

Still France flew forward. First, a rampaging run and lovely shimmy from Maouassa ended with the left-back sending a low drive wide. Italy were then grateful for the reflexes of their giant keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who denied Edouard one-on-one and then pulled off a fine save to repel Jean Ruiz's thunderbolt.

By the time Edouard had again been foiled by Donnarumma after 33 minutes, the Azzurrini had only been able to muster hopeful efforts from Simone Lo Faso and Filippo Melegoni in response.

Cutrone served notice of his predatory instincts just before the interval, however, turning neatly before zipping a half-volley past the far post. After France had threatened to extend their lead via captain Timothé Cognat and Ikone, substitute Gianluca Scamacca supplied Cutrone with a golden chance to level, only for the AC Milan player to be frustrated by Zidane.

France soon scored the second goal their dominance deserved, Bilal Boutobba weaving his way to the byline and supplying a cross that Ikone headed in. Again Italy rallied but again they were wasteful, Scamacca this time firing wide when clean through. Their hopes dwindling, they were unable to prevent Edouard grabbing his second – another backheel – as France cruised into the last four.

Odsonne Edouard, arms outstretched, wheels away in celebration after opening the scoring
Odsonne Edouard, arms outstretched, wheels away in celebration after opening the scoring©Sportsfile
Italy forward Patrick Cutrone heads the ball on
Italy forward Patrick Cutrone heads the ball on©Sportsfile
Italy's Filippo Melegoni and France forward Nanitamo Ikone
Italy's Filippo Melegoni and France forward Nanitamo Ikone©Sportsfile
Italy defender Federico Giraudo fends off Alec Georgen
Italy defender Federico Giraudo fends off Alec Georgen©Sportsfile
Odsonne Edouard revels in the second of his two goals
Odsonne Edouard revels in the second of his two goals©Sportsfile