France beat Greece to first place in Group A

France 2-0 Greece A goal in each half from Mouctar Diakhaby and Moussa Dembele ensured that France won Group A, the hosts through as runners-up.

Watch the goals that ensured that France moved into the top semi-finals as winners of Group A.

France win Group A; Greece also into Thursday's semi-finals
Mouctar Diakhaby heads France into early lead (5)
Moussa Dembele scores for second game in a row (64)
Patrick Gonfalone's side make it three wins from three games in Greece
Hosts finish second thanks to Austria's 2-2 draw against Ukraine

France wrapped up first place in UEFA European Under-19 Championship Group A as a goal in each half from Mouctar Diakhaby and Moussa Dembele secured victory against hosts Greece, who nevertheless joined their opponents in the last four despite losing in Katerini.

Wins in their first two games had taken France into the semi-finals with a match to spare, but Patrick Gonfalone had urged his side to find their best form against the hosts and his side responded within five minutes. Samed Kilic, an influential figure throughout the first half, delivered the free-kick from the left and Diakhaby beat Konstantinos Kotsaris to the ball to glance in.

Having fallen behind to a goal from a set piece, Greece twice nearly levelled through free-kicks of their own, and on each occasion Zisis Karachalios was the player going close. First the midfielder could not keep his header down from Kostas Tsimikas' delivery and then missed the target again from a similar route.

France, however, managed six shots on target to their opponents' zero in the first 45 minutes, Kotsaris fortunate to see Kilic's powerful strike land on the roof of his net after the ball had squirmed from his grasp. The goalkeeper stood up well to block from Dembele, with the France striker also sending a shot centimetres past the post after running at the defence.

Greece did muster their first shot on goal as Petros Orfanidis spun to draw a sharp save from Bingourou Kamara in the 61st minute, but instead of drawing level they were quickly two goals down. Alexis Blin's pass picked out Neal Maupay and the midfielder drew Kotsaris before squaring for Dembele to score.

The goalkeeper did make a fine double save from Maupay and Sehrou Guirassy to keep it at 2-0, but that left Greece nervously awaiting news of Austria's result against Ukraine, knowing an Austrian win would leave their semi-final place in jeopardy. In the event, the draw means the hosts will play the Group B winners in the last four on 16 July.

Reaction

Patrick Gonfalone, France coach
It was a much more comfortable match. We've found our freshness, after two matches where we really struggled with our level of physical fitness. There was a clear difference today. Today I was really pleased that my team was fresh and sharp, and we were much better in possession as a result – and that resulted in a much better match.

It was an interesting game, and now we're in the semi-finals. That's a real opportunity for us but we know we'll have to play some really good teams now and we have to keep our focus and concentration. I'm also happy that Greece got through, we know what it's like to get through when you're hosts and you organise a competition – so congratulations to them.

Giannis Goumas, Greece coach
Congratulations to my players for their efforts. From the minute we saw the teams in the group at the draw, our goal was to qualify for the semi-finals and we've managed to do that. They showed great passion and desire. We came here today to win but it didn't work out like that. We went behind early and didn't manage to get back into it. We were anxious but in the second half we were more like ourselves and everything turned out OK in the end.

Moussa Dembele is congratulated on his goal
Moussa Dembele is congratulated on his goal©EPO
France goalkeeper Bingourou Kamara punches clear
France goalkeeper Bingourou Kamara punches clear©EPO
Greece midfielder Paschalis Staikos evades a French challenge
Greece midfielder Paschalis Staikos evades a French challenge©EPO
Greece's players revel in their semi-final spot
Greece's players revel in their semi-final spot©EPO
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