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Spain beat France on spot kicks to reach final

Published: Friday 24 July 2015, 23.36CET
France 1-1 Spain (aet, Spain win 5-4 on pens)
Spain are through to their third final in four years after Marie-Charlotte Léger fired the tenth penalty over.
by Laure James
from Lod Municipal Stadium
Spain beat France on spot kicks to reach final
Spain celebrate after clinching victory ©Sportsfile

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Published: Friday 24 July 2015, 23.36CET

Spain beat France on spot kicks to reach final

France 1-1 Spain (aet, Spain win 5-4 on pens)
Spain are through to their third final in four years after Marie-Charlotte Léger fired the tenth penalty over.

• Spain, champions in 2004, through to their third final in four years
• France bring on reserve keeper Romane Bruneau just before the shoot-out
• Marie-Charlotte Léger scores her third of the finals but misses decisive spot kick
• Spain will meet Sweden in the final in Netanya on Monday
• France begin 2015/16 campaign in September's qualifying round

Spain will meet Sweden in the WU19 EURO final after triumphing over France on penalties.

France captain Marie-Charlotte Léger opened the scoring on 36 minutes, but Andrea Sánchez's equaliser before half-time ultimately forced the game into extra time – when both sides hit the woodwork – and then the shoot-out. The first nine were successfully converted but Léger fired the tenth over the bar as the Iberian outfit won.

Spain started brightly as France struggled at times to get a foot on the ball. Beatriz Beltrán curled a free-kick just wide and Spain's raucous fans leapt out of their seats when the busy Nahikari García was put through on goal but her effort was cleared off the line.

©Sportsfile

France celebrate after going 1-0 up

At the other end, Sakina Karchaoui warmed up with a long-range strike. She was looking sharp – her name does mean 'knife' in Hebrew after all – and it was her precision cross that led to the opener, the unmarked Léger finding the top corner with a left-footed strike.

Suddenly Les Bleuettes with ascendant, but it did not last. On 42 minutes it was 1-1 as Sánchez, well assisted by Alba Redondo on the flank, lobbed over Cindy Perrault from just inside the area.

France were livelier after the break, with Karchaoui and Clara Mateo both going close. Juliane Gathrat's delivery from corners added to their menace, but neither side could fashion another goal as the semi-final went to extra time.

©Sportsfile

Andrea Sánchez (No10) levels for Spain

They came closer there, Alba Rondondo forced an outstanding save from Perrault, who could do little when Rocio Gálvez's long ball dipped and came back off the crossbar. Karouchi responded in kind, sending in a rocket that thumped back off the bar.

With a few minutes left Gilles Eqyuem was forced into a change after Perrault collided with the post; reserve keeper Romane Bruneau came on for her first appearance of the finals. She was soon in the thick of it as Marta Turmo went close.

There was little Bruneau could do as Laura Domínguez, Sandra Hernández, Laura Ortega, Beltrán and García struck perfect penalties for Spain. Théa Greboval, Anissa Lahmari, Karchaoui and Marion Romanelli did likewise for France; then it was the captain's turn.

Reaction
Jorge Vilda, Spain coach: We're delighted to have won, but above all I want to pay tribute to France. They gave us the best match so far and were extremely strong opponents. At times they were superior to us. But we were brave and managed to hold on until extra time, penalties and beyond. Luck was on our side.

My players did everything I asked them to, they followed our game plan perfectly. But because of France's strengths we had to change things around. They showed us a classy game, and the head to head battles were strong.

©Sportsfile

Sweden are old rivals of ours, physically strong and well-organised. We'll look to overcome them the same way we did in 2012. We've always wanted to win the title, and we plan on doing so now we've got this far.

Gilles Eqyuem, France coach: It was a great match between two sides who like to play the ball around and wanted to succeed. I've been better, obviously, and the players are disappointed but it was a very good semi-final. Unfortunately it's over for us now, and credit to Spain.

We've played lots of good games in Israel and I think the French team has grown a great deal in this tournament. I've seen real development among the players, they've benefitted a lot in terms of maturity, confidence and self-assurance on the pitch.

Last updated: 26/07/15 10.53CET

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