Ivory Coast Advances to 2017 Toulon Tournament Final with Win vs. Czech Republic

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJune 8, 2017

Franck Yannick Kessie of Cote d'Ivoire U21 during the Festival International Espoirs de Football tournament match between England U21 and Ivory Coast U21 on May 30, 2015 at Stade Leo Lagrange in Toulon, France.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

The Ivory Coast will face England in the 2017 Toulon Tournament final after they defeated the Czech Republic 2-1 in their semi-final encounter at the Stade Parsemain on Thursday. 

Jean Amani and Jean-Philippe Krasso netted first-half goals either side of Ondrej Novotny's equaliser, but no goals after the interval saw Ivory Coast advance to the Toulon final for just the second time:

Toulon Tournament @TournoiToulon

🔴FINALS🔴 📅10th June 🏢Aubagne (Stade De Lattre) 3rd place play-off (3 pm) : Scotland-Czech Republic Final (5:30 pm) : England-Ivory Coast

England became the first team to book their spot in the final after beating Scotland 3-0 earlier on Thursday thanks to a Harvey Barnes brace alongside Elliot Embleton's 50th-minute contribution. 

Both semi-finalists came through the group stage unbeaten, each winning two and drawing one in the opening round to reach the final four in France.

What developed at the Stade Parsemain on Thursday was a back-and-forth befitting of such worthy candidates, who engaged in a tug-of-war between two teams looking to prove themselves as the best youths in the world.

Ake Arnaud Loba's ball into the Czech box after three minutes put a serious dampener on the latter's spirits, however, when Amani was on hand to tuck home an early breakthrough for the Ivorians.

Novotny levelled after 22 minutes following a neat passing sequence from the Czechs, and broadcaster Dan O'Hagan hailed a storming first period after Krasso's deflected shot five minutes from the break put Ivory Coast back ahead:

Dan O'Hagan @danohagan

HT Ivory Coast 2-1 Czech Republic. Best game of the tournament so far. Winners face England in the final of @TournoiToulon

Unfortunately for spectators, the two teams couldn't keep up such a high tempo in the second half and eased back, although yellow cards for Ivorian Souleymane Diaby and Czech defender Daniel Marecek kept things interesting.

Both outfits enjoyed ventures inside their opponent's final third, but the Ivory Coast—and particularly goalkeeper El Hadj Moustapha Dante—were successful in rejecting any and all approaches made by the enemy.

The Ivory Coast's only other visit to the Toulon Tournament final came in 2010, when they won the competition, and they'll have the opportunity to maintain that 100 per cent record against England on Saturday.

The Three Lions have conceded only twice en route to the Toulon decider, keeping two clean sheets from four matches, while the Ivory Coast have leaked four goals in their last four outings but will hope their attack can overpower their final foes.