Collison a winner with Wales

Reserve-team captain Jack Collison was back in action for Wales Under-21s as they achieved a dramatic 4-2 success against France in Cardiff.

Despite Les Bluets' perennial strength at this level - they have reached the semi-finals four times in the last eight editions of the U21 European Championship - they were undone by a thrilling fightback from Brian Flynn's side. Wales went into the qualifier for the 2009 finals in Sweden on the back of Saturday's 4-0 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Wrexham, when Collison crowned his debut with a superb solo strike that saw him surge past three midfielders, play a one-two and then round the visiting goalkeeper to score.

With Collison again energetic in midfield on Tuesday, Wales took the lead just before half-time through Manchester City's Ched Evans after a mistake by captain Younes Kaboul, the Tottenham Hotspur centre-half. However, France fought back and scored in the 73rd and 77th minutes through a penalty from AC Milan prodigy Yoann Gourcuff and a fine second from Dimitri Payet.

Yet Wales refused to give in and Evans drew the home side level from the penalty spot before taking the lead almost immediately afterwards when substitute Mark Bradley struck from close range. Evans then completed his hat-trick in added time with his second penalty of the night. The victory leaves Wales two points behind qualifying Group 10 leaders Romania and France, with one and two games in hand respectively.

Wales, who are bidding to reach the finals of this competition for the first time although would still have to overcome the play-offs should they progress from the group, are next in action on 6 February when they go to last-placed Malta. Collison will hope to be involved again but there is already talk of him attracting the attention of senior-team manager John Toshack. The midfielder also had support from club-mate Craig Bellamy, the Wales captain, who was watching from the stands on a chilly evening at Ninian Park.