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Blin decisive as France edge out Austria

Austria 0-1 France
France midfielder Alexis Blin scored the only goal in Katerini as the two-time champions made a winning start to Group A.

Highlights: Austria 0-1 France

France beat Austria on opening day of Group A
Alexis Blin heads only goal in Katerini (34)
Austria's Peter Gluhakovic sent off for two bookings (77)
France goalkeeper Florian Escales makes two important late saves
Next games: Ukraine v France, Greece v Austria (9 July)

France marked their return to the UEFA European Under-19 Championship with victory against ten-man Austria, midfielder Alexis Blin heading in the only goal 11 minutes before half-time.

Runners-up in 2013, France missed out on the finals a year ago and began as if eager to make up for lost time, Sehrou Guirassy having a shot deflected behind as early as the third minute. Austria, however, also started brightly and a clever corner routine involving two dummies gave Dominik Prokop a sight of goal but the shot was straight at Florian Escales.

The France No1's opposite number was then called into action for the first time as Kingsley Coman eased Xaver Schlager off the ball and cut inside; Alexander Schlager blocked with a strong right hand. Not to be outdone, an alert Escales then blocked Marko Kvasina's effort at the near post, and three minutes later France were in front.

Austria had looked threatening from set pieces but were themselves undone as Gnaly Cornet delivered a perfectly-flighted free-kick from midway inside their half; Blin's flicked header nestled in the corner of the net. France quickly threatened to add to their lead, Guirassy just failing to connect with Cornet's header before half-time and Samed Kilic slicing a shot wide after the interval.

With just one goal in it, however, Austria continued to hope and Sascha Horvath drew a sprawling stop from Escales as the game entered its final 20 minutes. Hermann Stadler's side then lost right-back Peter Gluhakovic to a second yellow card, but threw caution to the wind in the closing stages. It took crucial Escales saves from Horvath's low effort and substitute Tobias Pellegrini to ensure the points belonged to France.


Patrick Gonfalone, France coach
It was a good match between two good teams. Austria are a really solid team who have real potential, and it was therefore difficult for us to win this match. We didn't take our chances to add to our one goal and so the end of the match was very tricky. Austria had some chances late on, but we had plenty of opportunities too. It was difficult to hold them off but both teams played well.

Hermann Stadler, Austria coach
Overall I'm very happy with my team's performance. We caused France problems pretty much for the entire 90 minutes and the game was always on a knife-edge. France just had that little bit more individual class in their attack than we did and that was what, in the end, made the difference, although when we had one man less we still had that fantastic effort from Sascha Horvath which was saved really well by their goalkeeper. Of course you're never happy to lose, but I am happy about the team's performance.