Inspired France move into quarters, Spain out

28th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

HANOVER, June 27, 2006 (AFP) - An inspired France marshalled by Zinedine Zidane swept to a 3-1 win over Spain here on Tuesday to set up a dream World Cup quarter-final date with Brazil.

HANOVER, June 27, 2006 (AFP) - An inspired France marshalled by Zinedine Zidane swept to a 3-1 win over Spain here on Tuesday to set up a dream World Cup quarter-final date with Brazil.

Spain took the lead with a penalty from David Villa before Frank Ribery levelled, with Patrick Vieira and Zidane finishing off a memorable night for les Bleus.

France had promised to show her true face after making heavy weather of her opening group matches and she kept her word as Raymond Domenech's ageing side produced their prettiest football since arriving in Germany and arguably the best since he took over after Euro 2004.

But it was Spain who went ahead in the 26th minute after defender Lilian Thuram tackled Pablo Ibanez from behind, stepping on the Atletico Madrid defender's ankle.

Italian referee Roberto Rossetti had no hesitation in pointing to the spot despite protests from Zidane with David Villa stepping up to slot the ball low and left past Fabien Barthez to leave the 1998 champions on the back foot.

Up to then France were matching Spain step by step for pace, constructing some deft moves with Zidane at the heart of most and Ribery keeping the Spanish defence on their toes on the right.

Ribery had France's best early chance after Thierry Henry squared the ball from the right only for the young Marseille midfielder to fluff his lines from in front of Iker Casillas's goal.

But Ribery then showed why they're calling him the next Zidane as he drew France back level in the 41st minute, latching onto a through ball from Vieira and beating off two Spanish defenders, sidestepping the onrushing Casillas and shooting into an empty goal.

The 23-year-old, who has made a rapid rise through the Gallic ranks, celebrated his first goal for his country on his seventh appearance with a flying leap into les Bleus' substitutes bench.

The Spaniards went into the break aggrieved at not being awarded a second late penalty when Fernando Torres hit the deck after a challenge from Willy Sagnol.

Early in the second half Casillas punched wide a high kick from Florent Malouda as France pressed hard.

Spain coach Luis Aragones then hauled off two of his strikers, skipper Raul and Villa, with Liverpool's Luis Garcia and Joaquin entering the fray in an attempt to open the door leading to the Brazilians in Frankfurt on Saturday.

Aragones tinkered with his midfield with less than 20 minutes to go, replacing his Champions League winner Xavi with Marcos Senna and shortly after Domenech made his first change, Sidney Govou coming in for Malouda.

With extra time looming tension was evident and Spain's Carles Puyol picked up a yellow card for a foul on Thierry Henry, though replays showed that there had been no contact but the Arsenal striker's theatrical collapse fooled the referee.

Zidane fired the resultant freekick high into the box with Vieira leaping over the Spanish defence to head low towards Casillas but Spanish defender Sergi Ramos’s attempt to deflect it only helped to turn it away from Casillas and into the right hand corner of the goal.

Zidane then picked up his third yellow card of the competition and promptly celebrated by adding France's third, receiving a perfect pass from Sylvain Wiltord, eluding Puyol's desperate challenge and slotting it past Casillas.

Their date with Brazil is a repeat of the 1998 World Cup final which France won't need reminding they won 3-0.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article