UEFA European Men’s Under 17 European Championship 2022/23
Scotland 1-3 France
Nagyerdei Stadium, Debrecen
Wednesday 15th May 2023
Scotland 1 – Wilson 70’
France 3 - Yanis Ali Issoufou 5’, Kouakou Gadou 45’, Ellis 75’ (OG)
As it Happened
Scotland kicked off their European Championship campaign with a defeat to holders France in Debrecen.
France, the three-time winners of the competition, opened the scoring five minutes into the game.
Midfielder Isamail Bouneb delivered a deep cross into the Scotland penalty area and when the onrushing goalkeeper Rory Mahady was unable to connect his clearance, it fell to Yanis Ali Issoufou who was able to finish into an empty net from six yards out.
Six minutes later Issoufou found himself free at the back post again as he headed back across the face of the goal but centre-back Owen Hastie did well to get back in time to clear the ball before it crept over the line.
France continued to dominate in the opening stages with their intricate passing opening up spaces in the Scotland defence, though Mahady stood firm to stop them doubling their lead.
As the first half went on Scotland’s confidence grew, their willingness to play out from the back saw them win free-kicks deep into the opposition half and their high pressing nearly resulted in an equaliser.
After regaining possession, Jacob Macintyre put in a tantalizing cross which was met at the front post by striker Ryan One who could only place his header beyond the post as he did well to outmuscle the French centre-half pairing.
Unfortunately for Scotland, France delivered a killer blow just before half time. As Brian McLaughlin’s defence blocked a flurry of chances before the break - including Hastie blocking a goal bound effort with his face - France scored a second.
Having seen his corner cleared, Saimon Bouabre provided an inswinging cross from the left flank which found the head of centre-back Kouakou Gadou who was still up from the previous corner. Gadou rose highest to flick the ball into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.
Scotland started brightly in the second half and in the 52nd minute, Ryan One appeared to be through on goal after being played in by Rory Wilson, but just as One was about to shoot France’s Bastien Meupiyou got back well and dived in front of the striker to block the shot.
In the 70th minute Scotland were finally rewarded for their willingness to play out from the back, Mitchel Frame received the ball from the defence in his own half and expertly turned away from the French midfield, Frame then continued his run towards the opposition before finding One who was running in from the left hand side who did well to outmuscle the French fullback and expertly played the ball across the goal to Rory Wilson who kept his composure to place the ball into the net.
Though minutes later, France were awarded a penalty as referee, Elchin Masiyev, adjudged Leyton Grant to have got man before ball. Bouneb stepped up but his penalty was well held by Mahady.
Unfortunately though, France quickly regained possession and a low cross was whipped into the box which Mahady could only parry onto the thigh of Ruari Ellis, who watched on as the ball trickled over the line, restoring France’s two goal cushion.
Scotland pushed for another goal but were unable to unlock a rigid France defence and with the game running down French sub Joan Trinces found space and ran at the defence - again Grant was unlucky to see his attempted challenge result in a penalty.
This time, Trinces was the taker but Mahady repeated his early penalty heroics and dived brilliantly to his right to palm the ball away to safety.
Match report by Alister Bean
Scotland can take lots of positives, both in terms of pressing and in possession, against their highly-ranked opponents.
McLaughlin's side will now turn their attention to Portugal on Saturday in Matchday Two of group C.
Scotland: Mahady, Friel, Frame, Grant, Rice (Allan-Molotnikov 71’), Miller (Marshall 85’), Wilson, Hastie, Macintyre (Ellis 46’), Ure, One (Simpson 71’)
Unused Subs: McKenna, Forsyth, McLuckie, Connolly