France cruised to a 3-0 win over Croatia at Harrogate Town FC’s Wetherby Road stadium to qualify for the quarter-finals of the UEFA European Under-16 Championship as winners of Group D. But it was their opponents who had the better of the early stages, with some elegant midfield passing and fierce shooting.
However France’s best move brought them a goal just before half-time, six players combining beautifully before Florent Sinama Pongolle applied the finishing touch from close range.
Each side was then reduced to ten men following second yellow cards: France’s Julio Colombo received his marching orders on the stroke of half-time, and three minutes after the interval Marko Janjetovic was also shown the red card.
But Sinama was not to be denied and he scored his second on 55 minutes, latching on to a pinpoint pass from midfield to score clinically. The French then sat back, but when the counter-attacking Youssef Sofiane was brought down he promptly got up to drive home the penalty and seal France’s victory.
'We had to be patient'
French coach Jean-François Jodar said: "We are delighted to have won and to have qualified for the next round. The Croatians gave us a hard time in the first half and we had to be patient. But we knew we had the players to hurt Croatia on the counterattack."