France under-20 1-2 England under-21: Young Lions claim the 2016 Toulon Tournament title

Gareth Southgate's men dealt with the hosts and holders with surprising ease, even with them conceding a late goal to make for a nervy ending.

France under-20 1-2 England under-21: Young Lions claim the 2016 Toulon Tournament title
Ruben Loftus-Cheek celebrates his lovely deft finish that put England 2-0 up. (Photo: FA)
France
1 2
England
France: Escales; Fulgini (D'Arpino 41'), Diakhaby, Diallo, Niakhaté; Confais, Kemen, Konaté (Batubinsika 68'); Peireira de Sa (Robinet 59'), Bamba (Mousset 48'), Guirassy.
England: Pickford; Iorfa, Chambers, Hause, Targett; Chalobah, Ward-Prowse, Baker, Loftus-Cheek (Stephens 90'+2); Redmond, Watmore (Swift 65').
SCORE: 0-1, Baker 8'. 0-2, Loftus-Cheek 39'. 1-2, Diallo 78'.
REFEREE: Booked: Konaté 54', Loftus-Cheek 65', Swift 80'.

After two successive fourth placed finishes, England under-21s won their first Toulon Tournament title since 1994 when they dethroned holders and hosts France on Sunday evening.

A relatively comfortable 2-1 win got Gareth Southgate's men over the line, with them denying last year's winners their 13th title.

The scoreline flatters the host nation, who only managed to get themselves back into things with two minutes to go - Abdou Diallo halving the deficit from a corner.

The damage was done in the first half, with two very well taken goals from Lewis Baker - which gave him the tournament's golden boot - and Ruben Loftus-Cheek putting the Young Lions in a comfortable position.

Diallo's effort was then the only real moment of note in a quiet second half, with England able to keep the French at bay to protect their lead and clinch the trophy.

Perfect start from Southgate's side

Looking to win the tournament for the first time since 1994, England got off to a good start against the holders and hosts, with Nathan Redmond the recipient of a decent early chance.

A superb through ball from James Ward-Prowse released him, with poor defending from Mouctar Diakhaby helping to keep the Norwich City man onside, but Redmond could only drag his shot wide from an angle.

France didn't pay attention to the warning signs though and were to be undone on just eight minutes after Ward-Prowse was again given far too much time to pick a pass.

The Southampton midfielder lifted the ball up towards the run of Baker this time, who executed a splendid lob with his header to give the Young Lions the lead.

A finish reminiscent of Robin van Persie's against Spain at the 2014 FIFA World Cup; the Chelsea man's fourth of the tournament had not only put England in pole position for silverware, but himself too, with him moving to the top of the scoring charts in the race for the golden boot.

Baker now needed a favour from his defence, with France's Sehrou Guirassy on three for the campaign. However, they were handling his threat with relative ease to start, and the same goes for the rest of their opposition too.

Covering well and with the midfield tracking back, Gareth Southgate's side presented few gaps for the French to expose.

Lewis Baker's fourth of the tournament gave him the golden boot. (Photo: FA)
Lewis Baker's fourth of the tournament gave him the golden boot. (Photo: FA)

Favourites continue to underwhelm as they fall further behind

In a massively disappointing first half from the hosts, Jonathan Bamba had their best chance just past the midway point of the opening 40 minutes when he scuffed a half volley in the box and Jordan Pickford watched it run someway wide of his goal.

The Sunderland stopper was tested for the first time on 36 minutes, but Guirassy's long range attempt was hit straight at him and thus easy to deal with, even if it did have some power behind it.

Not only were the French lacking potency going forward though, they were lacking organisation at the back as England doubled their lead just before the break.

Redmond's through ball was deflected on by France's deep last man and Loftus-Cheek, played on by the defender who was nowhere near the wavelength of the rest of the back line, capitalised.

A deft touch over the diving 'keeper saw him tuck the chance away with an abundance of coolness and composure, as England moved into a comfortable lead to take in at half time.

Increased urgency is too little too late

With nothing to lose, France stepped things up in the second period and went at England with much more urgency.

However, they still struggled to test Pickford. Guirassy headed right at the youngster before Maxime D'Arpino also fired right at him - and this was the theme of the hosts' chances. As many openings and half-opportunities they saw, they failed to finish them clinically or at least bring the best out of their opposing 'keeper.

The second period steadily progressed with little of note occurring - Ward-Prowse having England's best chance of the 40 minutes when his curled a free-kick just wide of the mark.

France did get themselves back in it late on, with Diallo converting Thomas Robinet's corner from close range, but, with just two minutes remaining, it was too little far too late as England collected their fifth Toulon Tournament title.