England and Brazil knocked out in shock defeats

3rd July 2006, Comments 0 comments

3 July 2006, BERLIN - France, powered by flashes of the old brilliance of Zinedine Zidane, sent defending champions Brazil packing Saturday to set up a World Cup semi-final next Wednesday against Portugal.

3 July 2006

BERLIN - France, powered by flashes of the old brilliance of Zinedine Zidane, sent defending champions Brazil packing Saturday to set up a World Cup semi-final next Wednesday against Portugal.

The Portuguese earlier went through by subjecting England to another penalty shootout humiliation after a scrappy goalless draw, with England down to ten men for most of the second half plus extra time after Wayne Rooney was sent off for stamping.

Brazil's exit means an all-European final four. The July 9 Berlin final will be contested by the winner of Wednesday's semi-final between France and Portugal, and the winner of Tuesday's between Germany and Italy.

Arsenal striker Thierry Henry scored the lone goal for France's victory in the 57th minute off a Zidane free kick.

"There are no words to describe this. I'm simply happy - exhausted, but happily exhausted," said French coach Raymond Domenech, whose squad has steadily improved in Germany. "This is one of the great moments of French football."

Star-studded Brazil, denied their shot at a sixth world title, lacked ideas and rallied too late in the game to take revenge for their 3-0 humiliation by a Zidane-led France in the 1998 final.

France dominated play for most of the match, virtually shutting down Brazil's vaunted forwards, who never jelled against the well- organised French midfield and back line.

Barcelona star Ronaldinho, whose tournament this was supposed to be, left the field in tears, comforted by his French opponents.

While the Brazilians slunk off, a beaming 34-year-old Zidane celebrated his astounding comeback at what he has said will be his last international competition.

"It was an enormous game. We had to do it all physically and mentally, and we combined brilliantly," the former Real Madrid star said. "We're aiming for the final. We don't want to stop - it was so wonderful that I don't want to stop."

The England-Portugal clash saw Portugal's goalkeeper Ricardo his side's hero, saving three penalties, while England's villain was Rooney, whose flawed temperament again let him down.

The 20-year-old was shown a direct card for stamping into Ricardo Carvalho's private parts, and Argentinian referee Horacio Elizondo immediately showed him the red card.

After a scoreless 120 minutes, Portugal held their nerve better to win the penalty shoot-out 3-1 thanks to Ricardo, who saved efforts from Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.

Portugal last reached this stage of the tournament 40 years ago and were then beaten by England. This time round, it was their turn to boot the Three Lions out.

With Luiz Felipe Scolari as coach, Portugal had previously eliminated England from the 2004 European Championships, also thanks to a penalty shoot-out in that tournament's quarter-finals. Scolari was also the man in charge of Brazil when the defending champions knocked England out of the World Cup four years ago.

Sven Goran Eriksson, coaching England for the last time, said his side had not deserved to lose, adding that he was convinced his boys could have made it "all the way to the final".

"I'm sorry about losing on penalties. We practised penalties a lot, so I don't know what more we could have done about it," Eriksson said.

Scolari said: "It was an electrifying, marvellous game between two great sides. England made us sweat and run even when they were down to 10 men.

"Portugal could even come out of this as world champions," proclaimed the coach, who led Brazil to their fifth title in 2002, and will now be looking to do the same for Portugal.

DPA

Subject: German news

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