France fight back to seal final spot
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Switzerland 1-5 France
Captain Sandie Toletti was the driving force behind a France comeback in Nyon, Switzerland which earned them a place in Friday's final.
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France will contest their third UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship showpiece after coming from behind to defeat Switzerland 5-1 in Tuesday's first semi-final at Stade Colovray in Nyon.
Switzerland's Carmen Pulver stunned last year's runners-up when she put the finals debutants ahead against the run of play in the 13th minute. An immediate riposte from captain Sandie Toletti followed by a smart strike from Laura Blanchard put France in control before further strikes from Pauline Cousin, Kadidiatou Diani and Ghoutia Karchouni, an added-time penalty, completed the win.
France may have been quick to assert themselves in central midfield but it was Switzerland who made their first real opening count. When France failed to clear a right-wing cross from Barla Deplazes, Pulver fired a shot hard and true into the roof of the net to the delight of the many locals in the noisy crowd.
The hosts' lead did not last long, however, as Toletti replied with a smart left-foot finish from the edge of the area past the despairing dive of Nicole Studer. France continued to press and doubled their tally five minutes later when the ball broke for Diani down the right. Her perfectly weighted cross was superbly tucked away first time by Blanchard. Then, as half-time approached, Cousin turned in Toletti's corner.
Toletti was again at the heart of the action in the second half. On 52 minutes her run and cross was volleyed in superbly by Diani. The scorer was then denied by Studer's excellent stop, while Romane Bruneau kept out Sabrina Ribeaud following an almost identical move at the other end.
Bruneau was beaten by a glancing header from substitute Aline Stöckli in the 72nd minute only for the post to come to her rescue. There was plenty of late drama in the opposite area, too, as Diani won a penalty in added time. Although Toletti fired her spot kick against the bar, there would be no let off a second time as Karchouni dispatched another penalty in the final action of the match.
France, who have secured a spot in the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Azerbaijan, will meet Germany in Friday's final.