UEFA U-21 Euros: A goal-less draw seals France and Romania’s passage to the semi-finals


With both country’s level on points after two games and having a golden opportunity to progress into the semi-finals, the encounter between France and Romania promised plenty.

Once the pre-match pleasantries were out the way, France kicked off the game hoping to quickly quiet down the vast number of Romanian supporters, massively outnumbering the French inside the Stadio Dino Manuzzi stadium.

With boo’s ringing round the ground every time France were in possession, Les Bleus did come out of the blocks the quicker, dominating possession and winning numerous set-pieces.

From the get-go it was obvious that France were the team playing that needed the win to finish first. Anything less and Romania would pip them at the summit due to superior goal difference.

Despite both team’s being able to go through if they settled for a draw, the 15 minutes were surprisingly open. Although the French settled into a nice passing rhythm, Romania looked to explode on the counter-attack.

The first real chance of any note came not long after when a corner was tentatively punched by French keeper Paul Bernadoni, but the ball fell to Florinel Coman who attempted to chip the ball into the net. Fortunately for Bernadoni and France, Coman’s effort went just wide.

As the first-half wore on Romania started to assert themselves upon France despite not creating any obvious chances. Once composed in possession, the French looked nervy due to the increase in Romania’s pressure that were hunting in wolf-like packs.

Although there wasn’t an abundance of goal-gaping opportunities in the first half, it wasn’t through the lack of trying from either team. Both sides final ball was often misplaced and lacked any calmness in the attacking third.

In a scruffy yet open affair, Romania and France both knew that they had a great chance to get the win in the second half and consequently, top the group.

FBL-EURO-U21-FRA-ROU : News Photo

Upamecano tussles with George Puscas for possession – Image: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

15 minutes into the second half and France were steadily regaining the momentum through pinning Romania back in their half. The French were keeping the ball, but were evidently missing their star striker Moussa Dembele, who was unavailable for the match after struggling with an ankle injury.

Romania had a chance when George Puscas was clean through on goal after a lovely lofted ball. Unfortunately for Puscas his touch betrayed him and allowed Bernadoni to rush of his line and get a foot to it, clearing the ball away from danger.

Just 10 minutes left of the game and Romania came a whisker away from opening the scoring when Adrian Rus guided his header goal-bound but was deflected by the French skipper, Lucas Tousart. The ricochet narrowly missed the inside of the right-hand post. France were suddenly living dangerously; one goal conceded and they were out of the competition altogether.

Mateo Guendouzi, who was making his first competitive start for the Under-21’s had half a chance when the ball fell to him outside the box. However, he rushed his effort and blazed the ball over the bar.

With both sides safely through if the score was to remain goal-less, the match petered out and confirmed Romania and France’s passage to the semi-finals of the competition. Although the game in Cesena threatened to set alight several times during the match, the two team’s lacked a cutting edge to wrestle the initiative.

For underdogs Romania, their entry to the last four of the competition and finishing top of the group was celebrated by players and supporters alike in the stadium. The surprise package of the tournament, they will be hoping to upset a few more country’s along the way and lift the European trophy.

Team Line-ups

Romania: Ionut Radu; Radu Boboc, Christian Manea, Ionut Nedelcearu, Adrian Rus; Dragos Nedelcu, Alexandru Cicaldau (Alexandru Baluta 58′), Darius Olaru (Vlad Dragumer 72′), Ianis Hagi; Florinel Coman, George Puscas (Adrian Petre 82′)

France: Paul Bernadoni; Kelvin Amian, Ibrahima Konate, Dayot Upamecano, Malang Sarr; Lucas Tousart, Mateo Guendouzi, Olivier Ntcham; Marcus Thuram (Romain Del Castillo 84′), Jonathan Ikone (Jeff Reine-Adelaide 84′), Jean-Phillipe Mateta.


About Author

Football, Boxing and Cricket correspondent from Hampshire, covering southern sport. Editor and Head of Boxing at Prost International. Accreditated EFL & EPL journalist.

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