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France savour first triumph

France's fine reputation at youth level was further cemented at the 2004/05 European U19 Championship as they claimed the trophy for the first time.

France savour first triumph
France savour first triumph ©UEFA.com

France's reputation as one of Europe's leading countries at youth level was further cemented at the 2004/05 UEFA European Under-19 Championship as they claimed the trophy for the first time with victory in Northern Ireland.

Jean Gallice's side had reached the final tournament in style by winning all six qualifying games, but opened their campaign in underwhelming fashion, playing out a 1-1 draw with England at The Oval in Belfast. Also in Group B, Norway were 2-0 winners against Armenia – playing in a final tournament for the first time at any level – while in Group A hosts Northern Ireland opened with a single-goal defeat against Greece. The most eventful Matchday 1 encounter came in Lurgan, where Germany raced into a two-goal lead against Serbia and Montenegro only to be overhauled by four goals in the final 33 minutes, Borko Veselinović scoring twice. The Serbo-Montenegrin captain also scored in his side's next match, a 1-0 defeat of the hosts, while Germany got back on track with a 3-0 success against Greece.

In Group B, France found their feet with a 3-1 victory against Norway at Windsor Park, Yoann Gourcuff scoring a hat-trick that included two penalties, while Carl Lombe's 87th-minute equaliser earned Armenia a 1-1 draw against England. English prospects looked even bleaker with ten minutes remaining of their concluding match against Norway with the Scandinavian side leading 2-1, but late goals from substitutes Dexter Blackstock and David Wheater took them into the last four at Norway's expense. France clinched first place thanks to Cédric Cambon's first-half strike against Armenia. Group A was much more clear-cut,  Veselinović adding two more goals to his tally as Serbia and Montenegro made it three wins from three by overcoming Greece 3-0. Two goals in the final five minutes helped Germany defeat Northern Ireland 2-1 to claim second place.

Both Group A qualifiers had their hopes ended in the semi-finals. Matthew Fryatt's hat-trick brought Serbia and Montenegro's winning run to a halt and took England into the final, while Abdoulaye Baldé's double helped France to a 3-2 victory against an injury-ravaged German side. France were back among the goals in the final at Windsor Park in Belfast where in torrential rain they defeated England 3-1. England struck first when Lee Holmes' deflected effort looped in four minutes before half-time, but Mohamed Chakouri levelled eleven minutes into the second period and Baldé put France in front with 15 minutes remaining. Yoan Gouffran crowned a fine fightback with a third goal in the closing stages. Veselinović took the top scorers' trophy having managed five goals in the final tournament and eleven over the course of the season.