Imperious France overrun Italy for third title
Sunday, July 24, 2016
France 4-0 Italy
Goals in the first 20 minutes from Jean-Kévin Augustin and Ludovic Blas were added to late on by Lucas Tousart and Issa Diop in a dominant display.
Article top media content
- France claim third Under-19 crown with impressive defeat of Italy in Sinsheim
- Jean-Kévin Augustin's wonderful dribble gives France early advantage (6)
- Ludovic Blas nods in Clément Michelin cross for 2-0 (19)
- Captain Lucas Tousart (82) and Issa Diop (90+2) add late goals
- Les Petits Bleus add to their triumphs in 2005 and 2010; second final defeat for Italy
- Final as it happened in UEFA.com's MatchCentre
France won the UEFA European Under-19 Championship for the third time in considerable style after early goals from Jean-Kévin Augustin and Ludovic Blas were added to by Lucas Tousart and Issa Diop, leaving Italy on the wrong end of the biggest margin of victory in a U19 final.
Les Petits Bleus had conceded a third-minute goal in their semi-final against Portugal but there was to be no repeat here as Ludovic Batelli's side struck first. Amine Harit's pass found Augustin and the forward did the rest with panache, dribbling past three defenders and goalkeeper Alex Meret to roll in.
The goalscorer then set up Kylian Mbappé for a decent chance to make it two, but France would not be long delayed. Provider of two of the three goals against Portugal, right-back Clément Michelin was afforded the time to line up a cross and his impeccable delivery gave Blas the relatively simple task of nodding in at the near post.
With a game plan based around keeping it tight, Italy were on the ropes, but they have been a constant menace from dead-ball situations and nearly found a route back into the contest just before the break. Andrea Favilli's header from a corner deflected on to the top of the net; from the ensuing set piece, the No9 shot into the side netting.
France regained their composure at the interval and looked the likelier scorers again throughout the second half, Mbappé, Jérôme Onguene and Augustin in particular all going close.
Eight minutes from time, Tousart's 20-metre shot deflected in off Filippo Romagna, and there was still time for Diop to add a fourth with a thumping header as the French celebrations began in earnest.
Key player: Ludovic Blas (France)
The Guingamp midfielder has come to the party when it matters most, scoring the equaliser in the semi-final with Portugal and heading in the crucial second here. Clever in possession and a livewire presence down the right, he gave the Italy defence no respite.
The likes of Hugo Lloris, Yohan Cabaye (both 2005) and Antoine Griezmann and Alexandre Lacazette (both 2010) have all won this competition with France, and a number of the 2016 squad look well-placed to follow in their footsteps based on their displays in Germany. Augustin and Mbappé took the headlines with 11 goals between them, but Blas and Harit brought plenty of creativity while Clément Michelin was an asset in defence and attack. And there are more ...
France's lightning start
Batelli made it clear at the pre-final press conference that he expected Italy to sit deep, soak up pressure and counter at pace, but the France coach's team took that approach out of the equation as they seized the initiative from the outset. Pressing and harrying mercilessly, two goals in the first 20 minutes left the Azzurrini on the ropes.
Italy's threat neutralised
Having scored all their goals from set pieces to get to the final, there was always the danger that Italy could find themselves short of opportunities and, with France successfully cutting off that threat, the Azzurrini were unable to create enough to threaten an unlikely comeback.
Reporter's view: Andrew Haslam (@UEFAcomAndrewH)
I've seen some excellent teams in more than a decade covering the Under-19s and this France side is up there with the best of them. A phenomenal unit including some exceptional players – expect to hear a lot more about them.