Wednesday, July 05, 2006

World Cup Review

Day 23 of The Torunement
Wednesday, July 5th

Portugal vs France

Winner Face on Italy on Sunday for the World Cup

Zidane scored two headers to help France beat Brazil in the 1998 Final and eight years later, in his final match before retiring, he has the chance to bow out with a second winner's medal in Sunday's Final against Italy in Berlin.

France's winning goal came when Thierry Henry went to ground under a Ricardo Carvalho challenge after 33 minutes and Zidane struck his spot-kick low to Ricardo's right. They defended their lead comfortably save for one heart-in-mouth moment in the second half when Fabien Barthez spilled Cristiano Ronaldo's free-kick and Luis Figo headed the rebound over.

Portugal, semi-final losers here just as they were in 1966, will contest the play-off for third place with Germany in Stuttgart on Saturday.

The First Half:

1': Inside the opening 40 seconds of the match, there was a chance for France after William Gallas played a long ball over the top of the Portugal defence. Florent Malouda was the quickest to react, but with only Ricardo to beat, he screwed a right-foot shot wide of the target.

4': Ronaldo embarked on a mazy run on the left wing before slipping the ball to Deco in the centre of the pitch, who did well to create space. The Barcelona midfielder fired a low shot at goal,which Barthez almost palmed into the path of Pauleta, but the striker could not capitalise on the chance.

9': After more good work on the left, Ronaldo found Maniche. From 25 yards, the midfielder hit a rising shot, which whistled just inches over the top of the bar.

14': Zidane slipped the ball to Frank Ribery, who fed Eric Abidal marauding down the left flank. He hit a low centre into the box, but Thierry Henry could not find the decisive touch and the ball went agonisingly across the face of the goal.
16': It was Portugal who looked the brighter of the two teams in the opening stages and skipper Figo created a good chance for himself shortly after the quarter-hour mark when he had a low shot on target.

24': A quite breathtaking passage of play from Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team saw Deco interchanging passes with Deco, Ronaldo and Maniche. Eventually, Pauleta found himself in possession on the left, but his cross into the box was too high for Ronaldo.

28': Henry turned Miguel inside out with a series of body swerves and created a goalscoring opportunity. His shot, however, went straight into the arms of the grateful Ricardo.

33': France took the lead through a Zidane penalty, awarded after Henry was fouled in the area by Carvalho. The French captain hit the ball to the keeper’s right and although Ricardo dived the right way, he could not stop it from going into the back of the net. (0-1)

39': Ronaldo picked up the ball on the halfway line and dribbled deep into the French half, before unleashing a shot which was deflected wide for a corner.

Second Half:

48': Portugal enjoyed a prolonged spell of possession after the restart, but it was France who created the first chance. From inside the area, Henry's low left-footed shot hit the wrist of the diving Ricardo. The ball somehow spun behind the keeper's body and out for a corner.

49':A minute later, Ribery forced Portugal's No.1 into a fine save from the edge of the box. The Marseille midfielder hit a drive from the edge of the box, which Ricardo palmed away to safety.

53': Pauleta had Portugal's first opportunity of the second half. He forced his way past Lilian Thuram to give himself a clear sight on goal but blasted his shot into the side-netting.

70': Following a quiet period in the match, Everton full-back Nuno Valente tried to test Barthez with a looping shot from the left but the experienced keeper picked the ball out of the air with ease.

76': Portugal went close to levelling matters when Valente's ball into the box almost found Ronaldo and substitute Helder Postiga, but fortunately for the French defence it squirmed clear of both of them.

78': Agony for Portugal and a real let-off for France. Ronaldo’s long-range free-kick was parried by Barthez and the ball ballooned into the air and was met by Figo, who headed over with the goal at his mercy.

90+2': As time ticked away and French nerves began to flutter, Thuram headed a high ball into the path of Fernando Meira who volleyed the ball high and wide of the goal. Although Portugal forced two late corners, they were dealt with extremely well by the French defence.

In conclusion:

Zidane’s 33rd-minute penalty proved to be the difference between the two sides in a FIFA World Cup semi-final, which was high on perspiration if not inspiration. Les Bleus defended well when it mattered, although they were not tested enough by a Portugal side lacking a distinct cutting edge.

France - 1-0 - Zinedine Zidane (pen 33)

Yellow Card

Portugal - Alberto Ricardo Carvalho (83)
France - Louis Saha (87)

Match Stats

Shots (on Goal)
Portugal - 11(6) France - 6(3)
Portugal - 16 France - 10
Corner Kicks
Portuga - l8 France - 3
Portugal - 4 France - 0
Time of Possession
Portugal - 51% France - 49%
Yellow Cards
Portugal - 1 France - 1
Red Cards
Portugal - 0 France - 0
Portugal - 4 France - 6

Italy vs France

Germany vs Portugal