Three Lions suffer French comeback
© Getty Images

Alexandre Lacazette scored the winning goal with a deflected shot as France U-20s came from a goal behind to beat England U-20s 2-1 at the Greenhous Meadow Stadium.

Marvin Sordell had given England an early lead, which was cancelled out by Clement Grenier before Lacazette struck to give the away side a deserved victory.

The Three Lions made the breakthrough after a busy opening ten minutes, with Matt Phillips’ pace and direct running unsettling the visitors’ defence.

Picking up the ball on the right, Blackpool winger Phillips drove past two French defenders to the edge of the box before crossing to leave 19-year-old striker Sordell a simple tap-in.

It may have been harsh on Les Bleus, whose attractive passing football - led by the impressive Arsenal youngster Francis Coquelin - was lacking an end product. Attacks were breaking down all too often once the ball reached lone forward Yannis Tafer, whose first touch was short on quality.

England continued to cause problems with balls over the top and the trio of Phillips, Sordell and Cameron Stewart were a constant threat down either wing.

However, France finally got the goal their neat approach play deserved after 36 minutes, as Grenier combined with Real Sociedad winger Antoine Griezmann before smashing a shot from the edge of the box into the top right corner.

England were struggling to find their rhythm and the constant changing of positions in midfield left Sordell isolated, while the away side were visibly growing in confidence.

Brian Eastick’s side were glad to hear the half-time whistle as France found further gaps in the home backline, with goalkeeper Jake Kean making several smart saves before the break.

France made wholesale changes at half-time, including the departure of the influential Coquelin. England made just one substitution, Jason Lowe replacing Stewart.

The first chance of the second half came to England captain Dean Parrett, who made a surging run from midfield into the opposition box but saw his left-foot shot tipped over the bar by substitute goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte.

Within seconds, Gilles Sunu had missed a similar opportunity at the other end. Tafer capitalised on a defensive error to slide a pass through to Sunu but the Arsenal man snatched at the chance and sent his shot high and wide.

France were on top and completed the turnaround courtesy of a deflected strike. Lacazette turned smartly before hitting a speculative shot from 20 yards which hit an England defender and left Kean helpless.

The second goal seemed to dent England’s morale and with Sordell withdrawn, the team had little presence in the final third.

Liverpool centre-back Chris Mavinga could have sealed the victory for the visitors with ten minutes remaining but failed to guide his header on target despite being left unmarked by a static England defence.

Lacazette’s goal proved enough though, with England resorting to long balls into the box in an attempt to snatch a draw their second-half performance hardly merited.