Pros 19.06.2019 — 14:13 Uhr

Mateta back heel helps France to wild win in debut

U21 European Championship: France misses twice from the spot, but turn things around in the end phase against England – Öztunali and Müller with perfect start, Aarón fighting for semifinal spot

Widespread relief from the French after a wild end to their first group stage match against England. ©imago images / LaPresse

France’s U21s looked like they were done after having played nearly 90 minutes in their debut Group C match against England at the European Championship in Italy and San Marino on Tuesday night. Despite being a man up and having multiple chances—including having missed two penalties—Jean-Philippe Mateta and Moussa Niakhaté’s side were still down against England. But, Mateta’s (who was subbed on in the 73rd minute) time was still to come.

The game in Cesena could not have gone worse for France. In the 15th minute, Moussa Dembelé (Olympique Lyon) missed the chance to take the lead from the spot, with Houssem Aouar (also from Lyon) also missing from the spot in the 66th minute. Manchester City’s Phil Foden gave England—who were down a man for the last 25 minutes of the match—the lead just after half. Unexpectedly, the French scored the equalizer in the last minutes of the match through Jonathan Ikoné, before Mateta made his mark in the 95th minute.

The Mainz goal-getter redirected a corner towards goal with his heel and benefited from Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace) putting the ball into his own net. This resulted in a wild celebration from France, who were able to take a big step towards securing their place at the top of the group. Niakhaté remained on the bench for the match.

Öztunali and Müller celebrate – Aarón fighting to advance

The tournament started very differently for the other Zerofivers taking part. Levin Öztunali (who played over 90 minutes) and Florian Müller (the second-string keeper after Schalke’s Alexander Nübel) celebrated a 3-1 win against Denmark in their debut. Aarón Martín (90 minutes) and his Spanish teammates lost 3-1 against hosts Italy and will have to continue to push in order to advance. The three group winners, as well as the best overall second place team will qualify for the semifinals.

The next matches featuring Zerofivers:

Spain – Belgium (Wednesday at 18:30 CEST)
Germany – Serbia (Thursday at 21:00 CEST)
France – Croatia (Friday at 21:00 CEST)