England were forced to settle for a draw in their Under-17 European Championship opener after France’s Adil Aouchiche cancelled out Sam Greenwood’s penalty.
Having been paired with France, Holland and Sweden in Group B at the tournament in the Republic of Ireland, Steve Cooper and his team knew there would be no freebies.
And so it proved on opening night as they forced to absorb waves of pressure created by a talented French opposition after Arsenal’s Greenwood had converted a first-half penalty.
Arsenal's Sam Greenwood put England Under-17s ahead against France
Greenwood celebrates with Noni Madueke after his goal but England had to settle for a draw
The striker showed excellent composure from the penalty spot to put England in the lead
The England players celebrate following Greenwood's goal in their opening game
There was an inevitability about Aouchiche’s 79th-minute equaliser given the balance of play after the break and, by the end, England were probably relieved to emerge with a point.
The shared spoils mean Holland take the early initiative in the group following their 2-0 win over Sweden earlier on Friday. The Dutch will provide England’s next opposition in Dublin on Monday.
The evening had started in farce when referee Rade Obrenovic and his team of officials found themselves seeing the sights of County Offaly, about an hour’s drive to the south of venue Longford, after their transportation took a wrong turning.
Adil Aouchiche celebrates after scoring the equaliser for France in the 79th minute
The France players were jubilant following Aouchiche's important intervention
It meant a half-hour delay to kick-off, disrupting the preparations of both teams, but at least Obrenovic remembered to play the match to 90-minute length as opposed to the 80-minute games seen previously in this tournament.
England (4-3-3): Moulden; Walcott, Robinson (Bondswell 54), Harwood-Bellis (c), Palmer (Bate 65); Azeez, Roberts, Weir; Rogers, Greenwood, Madueke (Gelhardt 88)
Substitutes not used: Trafford (GK); Mengi, Jenks, Knight
Coach: Steve Cooper
Scorer: Greenwood 34 pen
Booked: Robinson, Walcott, Palmer, Harwood-Bellis
France (4-3-3): Zinga; Soppy (Pembele 90+4), Kouassi, Ntenda, Matsima; Agoume (c), Zidane (Aouchiche 59), Millot (Lepenant 81); Mbuku (Lihadji 81), Rutter, Traore (Bakwa 59)
Substitutes not used: Nazih (GK); Altikulac, Youte Kinkoue, Nsona Wa Saka
Coach: Jean-Claude Giuntini
Scorer: Aouchiche 79