France 0, Scotland 1
Wednesday, 30 May 2018, kick-off 6.30pm (UK time)
Stade D’Honneur, Salon
Scotland: Oliver Burke (35)
Scotland’s Under-21s secured a special success over Toulon tournament hosts France.
Captain Oliver Burke’s strike was enough to separate the two sides but this really was a victory that owed everything to 14 players who left everything on the pitch.
While a talented French squad piled on the pressure late on, Scot Gemmill’s side stood tall and played patient, possession-based football to ensure keeper Robby McCrorie was only called into action on a handful of occasions.
On the back of a hard-fought opening draw with Togo, this was Scotland’s first win over France at any level since James McFadden’s legendary strike in Paris 11 years ago.
There were two changes to the team that came through the bruising showdown with the Togolese.
McCrorie replaced Ross Doohan in goal, while there was a debut at Under-21 level for playmaker Billy Gilmour.
Gilmour – the first Scottish FA JD Performance School graduate to earn a place at Under-21 level – became the youngest player to feature for the Under-21s since Chelsea team-mate Islam Feruz back in 2012.
What a feeling making my debut for the 21s against France and to get the win🏴🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/sA5ytvZhS6— Billy Gilmour (@billygilmourrr) May 30, 2018
As expected after a strong week in training, he offered a potent blend of technique and tenacity. He was not alone in his efforts.
Scotland started on the front foot – surprising an opposition who clearly expected to have the majority of possession.
Gemmill, though, had clearly done his homework and deployed Allan Campbell in a more advanced role than he’s used to – with the Motherwell man hassling and harrying the French backline from the first whistle.
The tactics clearly unsettled France.
Frontline focal point Fraser Hornby and Burke linked up well to free the West Brom winger up on the flank, but his dangerous delivery was just missed by the stretching Michael Johnston.
Burke, who at times tormented the hosts, then flicked the ball over the head of defender Harold Moukoudi before looking on in frustration as a powerful volley was deflected over.
He was not to be denied for long.
Five minutes from the break he seized on yet another Hornby flick-on, drove into the box and blasted beyond the diving Dimitry Bertaud from a tight angle.
As you would expect, France upped the ante after the interval but when the going got tough, Gemmill’s men dug in.
The spirit was typified by left-back Greg Taylor, who produced a great last-ditch challenge to deny Jordan Tell from levelling.
Behind a well-drilled defence, McCrorie had barely had a chance to get his gloves dirty but the Rangers shot-stopper was alert when required.
With 11 minutes left on the clock, he threw himself low to his right to tip away a header from Wilifred Kanga.
Jason Kerr saw a clearance loop up over his own bar and land safely on the roof of the net, with sighs of relief all round amongst the Scotland camp.
That was as good as it got the French, with Scotland now on the verge of reaching the semi-finals of the prestigious Toulon tournament for the second season in a row if they can beat South Korea on Saturday.
Scotland: McCrorie, Ralston, Kerr, Porteous, Taylor, Wilson, Campbell, Gilmour, Johnston (Harvie), Burke (Wighton), Hornby (Hamilton).
Ross Doohan (Celtic)
Robby McCrorie (Rangers)
Daniel Harvie (Aberdeen)
Jason Kerr (St Johnstone)
Chris Hamilton (Heart of Midlothian)
Ryan Porteous (Hibernian)
Anthony Ralston (Celtic)
Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock)
Iain Wilson (Kilmarnock)
Liam Burt (Rangers)
Allan Campbell (Motherwell)
Billy Gilmour (Chelsea)
Fraser Hornby (Everton)
Glenn Middleton (Rangers)
Harvey St Clair (Chelsea)
Elliot Watt (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Oliver Burke (West Bromwich Albion)
Michael Johnston (Celtic)
Craig Wighton (Dundee)
Scott Wright (Aberdeen)
Group A: China, England, Mexico, Qatar
Group B: France, Scotland, South Korea, Togo
Group C: Canada, Japan, Portugal, Turkey
Scotland 1, Togo 1, Stade de Lattre, Aubagne
Scotland 1, France 0, Stade D’Honneur, Salon
Scotland v South Korea, Saturday 2 June, kick-off 2pm (UK time), Stade Parsemain, Fos-Sur-Mer (Live on Free Sports UK)
*Schedule subject to change depending on broadcaster's preferences.
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