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Blake delighted with England endeavour

Noel Blake said England had been "the driving force" after snatching a draw against France to finish second in Group A, while Austria's Andreas Heraf was ecstatic at taking third place.

England manager Noel Blake during his side's 1-1 draw against France
England manager Noel Blake during his side's 1-1 draw against France ©Sportsfile

Noel Blake believes Matt Phillips' last-gasp leveller was vindication for England's endeavour as last season's runners-up snatched a draw against France and with it a place in the UEFA European Under-19 Championship semi-finals. There was also a dramatic conclusion to the other Group B game, Austria claiming third position – and qualifying for the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup – thanks to Marco Djuricin's late penalty against the Netherlands, leaving Andreas Heraf ecstatic and his opposite number Wim van Zwam reflecting on a disappointing campaign.

Noel Blake, England coach
We're obviously very pleased. At a tournament like this you come with certain objectives: our main one was to qualify for the World Cup. The second was to qualify for the semi-finals. Now we have a new one and we'll see how that unfolds. We were trying to play in a good spirit; our lads can play the game. We played really well and moved the ball well. There were chances at either end in the early stages. We were obviously disappointed to go behind but at a certain point we were the driving force; we pushed and pressed and passed to try to get onto the scoresheet and that was there for all to see.

Francis Smerecki, France coach
We've qualified for the semi-finals and the World Cup and that's very satisfying. We came into the match in a favourable position having already almost reached the last four. We changed the team a lot as we had five players on yellow cards and I am pleased with the lads who came in. I was pleased with how the game went except for the fact that we slowed down in the latter stages. England are a quality team who have improved throughout this tournament. We're happy to go through as group winners but both semi-finals will be very hard games and the key will be the recuperation.

Andreas Heraf, Austria coach
It was like a final because both teams knew they could have got through. We're a very small country and getting to the World Cup is extraordinary. All the team helped in this; they knew if we won this match we would definitely go to Colombia. So it was a tight match; we had lots of chances but the Dutch are capable of great moments and they hit the crossbar twice. We had some luck with the penalty and we're naturally very happy to be in Colombia. That's very important for us; in 2007 we played at the [U20] World Cup in Canada and four years later we're back– it's proof we've been working well in Austria for the last few years and we want to keep that going. This tournament has been fantastic. I'm sad we're leaving but it's been an incredible experience for everyone.

Wim van Zwam, Netherlands coach
It's very disappointing of course. When you're so close, hit the crossbar twice and get a good chance when it's ten against 11, you should have scored. Austria had chances too. It was an open game till 60 or 65 minutes. Then we were in control, got a couple of chances and should have scored. We didn't, then one of our players got a stupid red card, but there was still a chance for us. If we had scored the game would have been over. Then the penalty, and we can't do anything anymore.

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