France U/21s 3 England U/21s 2
Gareth Southgate's young charges roared out of the blocks against France on a wet Monday night in Brest, establishing an early two goal advantage. They were unable to withstand a spirited comeback from their hosts though, as France under- 21s powered their way through a heavy pitch to ultimately defeat their English counterparts 3-2 in the friendly in Brest. It was a setback for Southgate as he witnessed his first reversal as head coach and ended a run of twelve matches without defeat for the national side.
With several potential players such as star striker Saido Berahino promoted to the senior squad, the friendly provided a chance for other #Youngsters
to promote themselves and catch the eye as they build up to their appearance in the European Under- 21 Championship next summer in the Czech Republic.
The French started the brightest with Gianelli Imbula Wanga testing goalkeeper Jonathan Bond inside the first ten minutes. Paul-Georges Ntep De Madiba and Florian Thauvin also went close to making the breakthrough as the hosts forced the pace.
Against the run of play it was England who took advantage of those early misses, as Tottenham's Harry Kane continued his eye-catching early season form to put his England side ahead with two goals in only three minutes. For his first he ran on to a precise pass from Tom Ince to beat the French keeper with a neat finish. He repeated the feat on 22 minutes as he tapped in a shot from Ince again.
France responded in kind as Arsenal's Yaya Sanogo drew them level with two goals of his own before half-time. Antoine Conte's shot gave him the opportunity to guide in his first and Madiba set him up for the equaliser.
England steadied the ship after the break as Southgate shuffled his outfield players around, but after a number of near misses the French claimed the win they deserved when substitute Kingsley Coman scored on 73 minutes. Madiba was again the provider as he beat two players before setting up the goal for his countryman.
Southgate will have learnt a lot about his team and will hope he can put that knowledge to good use when the serious business begins at the Euro Champs next summer.
Despite the imposing nature they demonstrated ably against England, the French will not be present in next summer's Euro finals, after being surprisingly knocked out by Sweden's youngsters in the play-offs. Sweden will play England in their group next summer, along with Italy and Portugal. #Football
With only eight teams contesting the finals, it shows just how difficult it will be for England to succeed there and provides a clear indication as to why there have been calls by many for Southgate to have a free hand to select the very best players available to him. In all likelihood, the reality will be somewhere between the two extremes, with those already established in the senior set up most likely to forego the invitation.