France coach Francisco Rubio was relieved to finally get the better of Ralf Peter's Germany in their semi-final shoot out, but noted: "I wouldn't say we totally handled the pressure."
Article top media content
France coach Francisco Rubio was relieved after his side's nerves just about held out, winning 6-5 on penalties against Germany after a 2-2 UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship semi-final draw in Nyon.
France had lost all three of their previous meetings with Germany at this level, but finally ended that run at the Stade Colovray, with Germany captain Melanie Leupolz blasting the pivotal spot kick wide with the shoot-out into sudden death. It was a cruel blow for Ralf Peter's side, but he maintained that his side would be stronger for that bitter experience.
Francisco Rubio, France coach
We didn't quite know the order of who would take the penalties because of the substitutions we made. Of course, we practise penalties in training but you can't recreate the pressure of the crowd around you. Claire Lavogez would normally score but today she put the first kick wide. I wouldn't say we totally handled the pressure because we still missed two, but it's not easy. I guess you could say we have lifted the curse Germany had on us.
I'm relieved because I knew we had a group that could make it at this level. This team has been together for about two years now and they deserve to be in a final. It was tough at the start; some of our players looked a bit out of sorts. They weren't getting into their game. However we managed to keep it at 1-0 when we went in at half-time. I made changes, because I felt that it was only the technical staff who believed we could do it. We geed them up a bit and they went back out on to the pitch and rose to the challenge.
Ralf Peter, Germany coach
We had our noses in front in the shoot-out, but nerves play a part. These girls are young, and that showed. We trained for penalties, but when it comes down to it you really can only try to calm the players and tell them to shoot clearly and firmly, and to try and concentrate.
The best footballers in the world miss penalties – you can't expect every penalty to go into the net. The French took the better penalties, and there is nothing more to say. I told the players that they fought hard, they came back after going 2-1 down to equalise and that was very positive. They will just have to digest what has happened as part of their development.