France have been crowned UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship winners for the second time as holders England were made to pay for two costly defensive lapses.
It was all going to plan for Mo Marley's team when Jessica Holbrook gave them a deserved lead midway through the first half. Yet within four minutes a Lucia Bronze error allowed Rose Lavaud to equalise and soon after the interval goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer's poor clearance afforded Pauline Crammer the simplest of finishes. There was no way back for a tired-looking England; France merely grew stronger in preparation for the full-time celebrations.
With so much at stake finals often start at a sedentary pace, a victory for caution over adventure – there was never a hint of that here. Much of the early endeavour came from Toni Duggan as England's lone striker, such a sedulous presence, ran at the France defence. Inès Jaurena was particularly unsettled, though the right-back got just enough on one pass inside to deny Jordan Nobbs a sight of goal.
Duggan's failure to spot Isobel Christiansen's subtle run prevented a similar opening – the Everton LFC striker would not make the same mistake twice. With 25 minutes gone the 18-year-old again got the better of Jaurena on the left and laid possession off to Holbrook, who made a difficult finish in a crowded box look easy by shrugging off Adeline Rousseau and firing low into the bottom corner.
Twice beaten finalists since claiming their only title in 2003, France must have feared the worst but it was soon 1-1 as Bronze prevaricated. Lavaud pounced, blocking the clearance and gratefully running onto the favourable rebound before a crisp finish into the far corner. Yet if Bronze could point to some ill fortune, Spencer's culpability for France's second was less in doubt.
The rock on which Marley's side have founded such strong foundations for the past few years, the goalkeeper contrived to direct a pass straight at the only red shirt in England's half ten minutes after the break. Crammer would not pass up such generosity, slotting into the empty net.
Spencer made partial amends when she denied the lively Lavaud from point-blank range, then tipped over Léa Le Garrec's corner – but the damage had been done, England's disappointment compounded by an ankle injury to Gilly Flaherty. In the end, France won at a canter.
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|16||Laetitia Philippe (GK)||1||Rebecca Spencer (GK)|
|3||Caroline La Villa||2||Lindsey Cunningham|
|4||Kelly Gadea (C)||3||Gilly Flaherty (C)|
|5||Adeline Rousseau||4||Abbie Prosser|
|6||Léa Rubio||5||Lucia Bronze|
|14||Inès Jaurena||9||Toni Duggan|
|15||Amélie Barbetta||10||Jessica Holbrook|
|1||Solène Chauvet (GK)||13||Lauren Davey (GK)|
|11||Léa Le Garrec|
|12||Mélissa Godart||16||Drew Spence|
|13||Cindy Berthet||17||Lauren Bruton|
|18||Marion Torrent||18||Rebecca Jane|
|Jean-Michel Degrange (FRA)||Maureen Marley (ENG)|
|Karolina Radzik-Johan (POL)|
|Petruta Iugulescu (ROU), Monica Lokkeberg (NOR)|
|Rhona Daly (IRL)|