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England planning pleases Blake

England coach Noel Blake was left to enjoy a game plan that was executed "to the letter" as his side advanced from Group B with France, who now face Spain in the semi-finals.

England planning pleases Blake
England planning pleases Blake ©uefa.com 1998-2012. All rights reserved.

England progressed to the semi-finals of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship thanks to a victory against France that their coach Noel Blake described as well-planned and perfectly executed. His opposite number Pierre Mankowski lamented the unforced errors that led to Les Bleuets finishing as section runners-up. Croatia coach Dinko Jeličić, meanwhile, was pleased his team claimed a place at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup thanks to victory against Serbia. 

Pierre Mankowski, France coach
England scored with their very first shot at goal, they hadn't had any chances before that so it really is a great shame. Their second goal was an individual error. It's a pity as my lads tried to get back into the game right to the end and we dominated while England just tried to hit us on the counterattack. Of course we knew that they would try to do that but what we did not expect was that we would make life hard for ourselves. We never considered who our next opponents might be; at this level both potential opponents are very closely matched. 

Noel Blake, England coach 
It was a very tough game. France had a lot of possession and dominated the ball in front of our back line to a certain extent. At the same time, I thought we played some really good football. We had a game plan in terms of what to do when we didn't have the ball and the players carried it out to the letter. We only conceded one goal and that was something we should have dealt with if we're honest. I can't fault the lads though. I made some changes because I feel you have to maximise your squad and I believe in each and every member of ours. Greece will be very strong opponents in the semi-finals. I said before that there are no easy games here.

Dinko Jeličić, Croatia coach
I would like to congratulate my players as we achieved what we set out to do in this match which was to attain a place at the 2013 U-20 World Cup. My players played well today but it wasn't our best game. I still consider the game against England as the best performance here. I am left feeling sad with the fact that we conceded a late goal against France [in our second match] which in effect cost us a place in the semi-finals. This team is very promising and will perform even better at the World Cup. We will have a first-choice squad then which we didn't have here.

Zoran Marić, Serbia coach 
Croatia deserved to win as they were more organised, especially in defence. They were more disciplined on the pitch. They scored very early in the game and that sent the match in our opponents' direction. Our problem in this tournament was that we conceded early goals and although we lifted ourselves afterwards, had our own problems scoring. We have just a few players who can cause problems in attack and we lost one of those – Aleksandar Mitrović – to a red card in our first game. We didn't have our strongest team here while many of our players were from the 1994 generation. That was our reality.