It may have been a wet and miserable night in Brest for Gareth Southgate’s England Under-21 side, but Arsenal striker Yaya Sanogo was very impressive as his first-half double helped France towards a well-deserved 3-2 victory at the Stade Francis-Le Blé.
Sanogo has still to score for Arsenal after 11 appearances, but he reminded both Arsenal fans and Arsene Wenger of the ability that attracted the London club to the player in 2013.
The 21-year-old missed the two playoff games against Sweden, which saw France eliminated 4-3 on aggregate, and with his showing on Monday, it may be a case of what could have been for the France under-21 side.
Throughout the game, Sanogo was outstanding in holding the ball up and bringing both wingers Florian Thauvin and Paul-Georges Ntep into the game. The England centre-backs struggled to cope with the physicality of the France No. 9
England went 2-0 up through a double from Harry Kane, but it didn’t alter the France game plan. Right-back Antoine Conte thought he had pulled one back when his right-foot shot at the back post found the back of the net, only for the replay to show that is was a deft touch from Sanogo that guided it past Jonathan Bond.
The second came shortly after when Ntep faked to shoot before sliding the pass to Sanogo, the big forward finished well, turning the shot past Bond with his left-foot. It was the least that France and Sanogo deserved.
Sanogo played the whole game as France went on to beat England 3-2 as Juventus youngster Kingsley Coman came on and scored the winner, set up by Ntep.
The Arsenal forward continued to dominate and link the front play for France, but the challenge from England disappeared and France were comfortable in the end.
That takes Sanogo’s under-21 tally to five in three games, the sort of strike rate that Arsenal fans can only dream of at the moment.