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Georgia hold firm to foil France

Georgia 0-0 France
Finals debutants Georgia got their Group B campaign off to a disciplined start against the two-time winners in a game of few chances.

Georgia hold firm to foil France
Georgia hold firm to foil France ©UEFA.com

Georgia marked their first UEFA European Under-19 Championship finals appearance with a creditable draw against France in a tight Group B contest in Alytus.

Defences largely enjoyed the upper hand although France's Yassine Benzia – their top scorer in qualifying with four goals – came close to a breakthrough in the first period. Nika Katcharava might have snatched the points for Georgia late on yet ultimately each team had to settle for a point.

Both sides had enviable defensive records in the elite round – France the sole team not to concede, and Georgia giving away only two goals – but both experienced moments of uncertainty at the back early on. Clear chances were rare, however, Georgia's Giorgi Pantsulaia twice narrowly missing the target while Benzia and Adrian Hunou both sent efforts narrowly wide for France.

Benzia went even closer just before the half-hour as he looked to have flicked Anthony Martial's low right-wing cross into the far corner of the net. Gabriel Tebidze had other ideas, producing a fine stop at full stretch, and the Georgia goalkeeper then had to deny Adrien Rabiot and Benjamin Mendy before the break.

Neither side was able to find much attacking rhythm as the second half unfolded with the absence through suspension of France's Larry Azouni and Georgia pair Daviti Ubilava and Guram Samushia having forced a reshuffle in both midfields. Once more openings were at a premium, though a deflected Lenny Nangis shot spun into Tebidze's hands.

With time running out space began to open up, and when Pantsulaia played in Katcharava with seven minutes remaining a breakthrough loomed before goalkeeper Quentin Beunardeau got just enough on the shot to prevent it crossing the line. When Avto Endeladze sent an effort just past the post, the last clear chance had gone; Georgia next take on early Group B leaders Serbia on Tuesday, when France face Turkey.