Luca Zidane saved three penalties as France secured their place in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship final thanks to a shoot-out success against Belgium in Burgas.
Belgium did not miss when prevailing from the spot in the quarter-finals against Croatia but saw a trio saved and Alper Ademoglu hit the post this time. France themselves failed three times, but Zidane – son of UEFA EURO 2000 winner ZinÃ©dine – helped them into a position where Odsonne Edouard’s fifth kick put them into Friday’s final. Earlier, finals top scorer Edouard put France ahead but saw a penalty saved and Rubin Seigers’ header took the game to spot kicks.
Having scored ten and failed to concede in their four previous finals games it was no surprise to see France come out on the attack. Edouard was denied from close range by the lightning reactions of Jens Teunckens but the Belgian keeper could not foil the No7 in the 23rd minute when a whipped free-kick flicked the post on the way to making it a fifth finals goal for the Paris Saint-Germain man.
Jean-Claude Giuntini’s side looked to force home the advantage and it appeared that they would when Christophe Janssens tripped Jeff Reine AdÃ©laÃ¯de in the area after the winger skipped away from the defender. However, Teunckens plunged to his left to keep out Edouard’s penalty. It was all France until the half-time whistle and Teunckens was forced to deny Nanitamo Ikone and Reine AdÃ©laÃ¯de.
Belgium served a warning of their own shortly after the restart as Ismail Azzaoui slid a shot just wide and the Red Devils delivered on that threat in the 52nd minute as Seigers thumped home a header from a left-side corner at the back post.
France No10 Bilal Boutobba saw a piledriver saved, Edouard poked just wide and Teunckens beat clear an Alec Georgen shot as France pushed for a winner but it was left to penalties to decide the winner. They now look to follow their 2004 victory, having lost in the finals of 2002 and 2008, on both occasions having won last-four shoot-outs.
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