Mbappé: cool heads key to France success

Kylian Mbappé reckoned "keeping our heads" was key to France's recovery from an early goal, while coach Ludovic Batelli said the squad has been improving game by game.

See how France made it into their fourth Under-19 final.

Kylian Mbappé, France
It was a tough match. We conceded a goal quickly but we kept our heads and equalised within a few minutes. After that the rhythm of the match broke down, it was two teams who were watching each other too closely.

We came out after half-time with confidence, even if Portugal had a good chance almost immediately. We managed to get in front and then got the third goal soon after and then we knew we'd done it. Now it's the final against Italy and we'll be giving everything to win that too.

For my first goal, it was a break down the right of middle, Jean-Kévin Augustin made a run to the near post so I decided to go to the far, and Clément [Michelin] put in a super cross that I managed to touch in.

For the second goal, it was a long throw and I got the touch; we're lucky to have a player with such a long throw [Michelin] and we want to make the most of that. I got the header at the near post and that was that.

A final is a match apart. You generally play against big teams, and Italy are certainly a big team. We know what they can do. They defend very well and they're capable of hitting you on the counterattack so we'll have to prepare properly and recover well. We'll be in good shape to win; we want to become European champions.

I've been lucky to be well supported by my team-mates. I've scored a few goals but I work for the team; it's more the efforts of the team than any individual which counts.

Amine Harit celebrates
Amine Harit celebrates©Sportsfile

Ludovic Batelli, France coach
We did well to come back from the early goal so quickly. It wasn't a bad start overall, it was just a lack of concentration. We showed our mental strength to recover from that.

What was most important was to equalise quickly – to go into half-time all square. Scoring the second and third goals in quick succession gave us the victory with 15 minutes left to play, and we finished the match very strongly.

We're very proud to be in the final – this team is resourceful and showed that with their play, and the result. That gives us confidence.

Victory against the Netherlands brought us here – it's not easy to get out of the group when you've lost your first match. The Dutch have a good team and winning like we did gave us a real confidence. We have an organisation, a system, a strong defensive foundation and that gave us the opportunity to attack.

Pedro Delgado reacts
Pedro Delgado reacts©Sportsfile

The [last qualifying match] against Serbia was where this squad came into their own. Against a great, very strong Serbia team, and in front of 12,000 spectators, we held our own and earned a 1-0 victory. That was where we became a real unit, both defensively and offensively. We had a bad ten minutes against England, but apart from that we've been excellent.

Emilio Peixe, Portugal coach
It was a very tough match for us. Our players ran out of energy at the end. France have a very strong squad; they play for the best clubs in France but we weren't worse than them. We just didn't make the most of our opportunities.

We performed really well and represented our country in a very good way. The work we've put into this squad, not just at this tournament but in the past few years, has been really great. We're sad that we didn't reach the final and won't have the chance to win the cup, but what we're left with is the pride in our quality and that we gave the best account of ourselves.

This was a really important tournament, and an important step for these players. Not everyone has the chance to play in these games – it's a privilege. At the moment we're sad we lost but we showed the quality of Portuguese football.

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