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France too strong for Wales en route to semis

France 3-0 Wales
Gilles Eyquem's team marched into the Women's Under-19 semi-finals thanks to a Sandie Toletti goal and two from Clarisse Le Bihan.

France too strong for Wales en route to semis
France too strong for Wales en route to semis ©UEFA.com

France beat Wales 3-0 in Haverfordwest to qualify for the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship semi-finals as Group A runners-up.

For all that the 1,000-plus crowd at Bridge Meadow were stirred by the emotive strains of the Welsh anthem, once this matchday three encounter got under way France were too strong for the already eliminated locals. First-half strikes by Sandie Toletti and Clarisse Le Bihan, and a further goal from Le Bihan, took Les Bleuettes into a semi-final against Germany on Wednesday.

Wales captain Lauren Price was right to heed the early warning of long-range efforts by Claire Lavogez and Ghoutia Karchouni, imploring her defenders and midfielders to deny space to the opposition around the home area. However, the hosts were unable to prevent Toletti finding the room to drift a shot from distance over Alice Evans on 28 minutes. Commendably Evans picked herself up to tip over Léa Declercq's attempt, but soon enough it was 2-0 as Le Bihan drove low beyond the Welsh keeper's grasp.

Gilles Eyquem's team had come into the game second in the group and unsure of their last-four qualification. Jarmo Matikainen's well-organised side were collecting enough second balls to make life difficult for their guests, but they were still headed for a third defeat. While the one change to the Welsh lineup from Thursday, Samantha Quayle, proved a willing runner on a hot afternoon in Pembrokeshire, France were benefiting from the fresh legs of Aissatou Tounkara, Kadidiatou Diani and Ghoutia Karchouni.

Wales's second-half substitute Shanelle Edwards did threaten a response, only for the next goal to come at the other end of the pitch. Le Bihan fired in No3 – again from outside the box – via Evans's left-hand post. To their credit, the home team withstood considerable France pressure for the remaining 43 minutes to leave the tournament with pride intact. Les Bleuettes, finishing just behind England on goal difference in the pool, must deal with Germany.