France's glory as Toletti ends England resistance
Saturday, 31 August 2013
England 0-2 France
Extra-time headers from Sandie Toletti and Aminata Diallo clinched a third Women's U19 Championship title for Les Bleuettes in Llanelli.
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France finally got the better of England in extra time to win the 12th UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship in south-west Wales.
Forward Sandie Toletti scored with a deflected header five minutes into extra time, and midfielder Aminata Diallo doubled up from a follow-up six minutes from the end, as Gilles Eyquem's side edged a tight contest in front of a 1,000-plus crowd in Llanelli. France's third victory in this competition was, for several of the players, a sequel to their success at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup last autumn.
Toletti's decisive intervention rewarded the No10's persistence in attack, beginning in the first half when she made Elizabeth Durack save after hesitancy by England captain Sherry McCue. Toletti also gave Aoife Mannion the slip to get one-on-one with Durack who palmed away. Then Kadidiatou Diani, two-goal heroine of Les Bleuettes' semi-final victory over Germany, made space for a shot, announcing her inclusion as one of four changes by coach Eyquem.
England's first threat to a French defence missing suspended captain Griedge M'Bock Bathy came from the trickery of their three-goal top scorer Bethany Mead, cutting inside to fire against Solène Durand. However, the opening half-hour mirrored more the defensive meanness of Mo Marley's team, bidding to replicate their 2009 championship triumph when they did not concede a goal, than Wednesday's four-goal mauling of Finland.
Facing such niggardly opponents and chasing another Women's U19 crown after victories in 2003 and 2010, France were going to have to make their chances count. However, Toletti drifted her next attempt narrowly wide from Diani's cutback, before on the stroke of half-time she had a powerful strike cleared by Melissa Lawley's pinball wizardry on the line.
These sides had played out a Group A stalemate on the first night of this tournament and, despite a dangerous Katie Zelem free-kick, they still could not be separated after an hour at Parc y Scarlets. By this stage, England appeared more comfortable in handling a France team with experience of recent finals in the UEFA European Women's U17 Championship and, of course, the U-17 Women's World Cup.
While McCue's crucial tackle curtailed a French raid, England No9 Nikita Parris increasingly troubled Eyquem's back line and her pressure resulted in an opportunity for Mead. As extra time loomed, the still flawless Durack dealt with an Aissatou Tounkara header and opposite number Durand denied Zelem.
Come the additional 30 minutes it was anyone's game. Within five minutes that 'anyone' read France as from Faustine Robert's corner, Toletti powered in a header that deflected up off Mannion and into the net. Léa Declercq might have made it two when one-on-one with Durack, likewise Aminata Diallo from close range. However, Diallo made amends, pouncing on a looping ball to head beyond Durack and confirm France's triumph in the 114th minute.