France knocks off Brazil 1-0; Host team Germany moves on

Published 1:31 am Sunday, July 2, 2006

France still has Brazil’s number. And on Saturday, the French had all the flair, too.

The experienced and savvy French ousted the five-time champions 1-0 in a stunningly one-sided World Cup quarterfinal game. Tacked onto France’s 3-0 victory in the 1998 title match — the last time Brazil lost in the World Cup — it’s clear the Brazilians have a nemesis at soccer’s highest level.

The heroes were familiar as well. Zinedine Zidane, headed into retirement after the tournament, served a perfect free kick to Thierry Henry in the 57th minute. Completely unmarked, Henry had the whole right side of the net and smashed in a right-footed volley.

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It was Zidane who lifted his nation past the Brazilians in 1998, scoring two goals for France’s first title.

This was a shocking exit for Brazil, the pretournament favorite. The Brazilians had just one shot on goal all game and allowed huge defensive gaps all night. Stars such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka were either invisible or inept.

“This was not a lucky victory,” Henry said.

France began the tournament so poorly it appeared headed for a first-round exit like four years ago. Instead, France heads to the semifinals against Portugal on Wednesday in Munich.

With Germany playing Italy in Tuesday’s semifinal in Dortmund, this will be the first all-European final four since 1982.

In the final minutes, Brazil desperately pressed forward, with Ronaldinho surfacing at last and barely missing on a free kick. Two more attacks yielded nothing as France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez screamed at his teammates to hold on.

Barthez was gripping a floater by Lucio as the clock ran out, setting off a wild celebration in which the France players mobbed each other while jumping in a circle. Several of them offered hugs to the vanquished and dazed Brazilians before heading to the corner where their fans were waving flags and taking pictures — and savoring a magnificent victory.

Brazil and France have played three times since the 1998 final, with France winning 2-1 in the 2001 Confederations Cup in South Korea and then playing to a 0-0 draw in a 2004 friendly in Paris.

Obviously, intimidation is not a factor for the French, who were the better team all night. Zidane wove, bobbed and spun his way through the Brazilian midfield, looking like his three-time FIFA World Player of the Year self.

Portugal 0, England 0 (Portugal won shootout 3-1)

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — The ending is familiar: Luiz Felipe Scolari pumps his arms, his players wildly celebrate and their English rivals slump to the field, beaten and exhausted.

Portugal, Brazil — it doesn’t matter. When Big Phil is coaching, his team will send England home. That goes double when the team is Portugal, triple when it comes down to penalty kicks.

England gamely hung on after David Beckham got hurt and Wayne Rooney got ejected, but lost to Portugal 3-1 in a shootout Saturday night after 120 minutes of scoreless soccer in the World Cup quarterfinals.

“There’s a lot of heartache,” said Beckham, who likely played his last World Cup match. “We’re all devastated tonight.”

Ricardo, Portugal’s goalkeeper, saved three penalty kicks as his nation advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1966 — when it lost to England. The final kick was converted by Cristiano Ronaldo, who stars for Manchester United.

Friday’s play

Germany beats Argentina

BERLIN (AP) — Germany relentlessly wore down Argentina, scored a tying goal in the 80th minute Friday, then won it 4-2 in a penalty-kick shootout as goalkeeper Jens Lehmann stopped two shots and the hosts made all four of theirs.

Rather than getting desperate when they fell Friday behind for the first time in the tournament, the Germans pressed the attack and beat Argentina’s backup goalkeeper Leonardo Franco — playing only his third game with Argentina and his first minutes of the World Cup — on Miroslav Klose’s header to pull even 1-1.

After a scoreless extra time, Germany grabbed a spot in the semifinals opposite Italy by dominating the shootout against the second-string keeper, who never came close on any of the shots.

Oliver Neuville, Michael Ballack, Lukas Podolski and Tim Borowski had no trouble with Franco in the shootout. Roberto Ayala, who scored in the 49th minute, and Esteban Cambiasso were stopped by Lehmann.

When Lehmann made the final save, the German players, who stood arm-in-arm on the field, sprinted to mob him.

Argentina put Germany behind for the first time in the tournament on Ayala’s header. The inexperienced Franco had replaced Roberto Abbondanzieri, who came out in the 71st, about five minutes after a collision with Klose following a free kick.

Italy 3, Ukraine 0

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — With an early strike, a goal-saving scramble and an assist from defender Gianluca Zambrotta, Italy held off the World Cup newcomer.

One minute after Zambrotta kicked a ball off his own goal line to quash Ukraine’s last hope of an upset, Luca Toni scored his first World Cup goal with a header and added a second when he slid in Zambrotta’s pass in the 69th minute.

Zambrotta made a sixth-minute run on the right, setting up a one-two with playmaker Francesco Totti and finishing it off with a searing 20-yard left-footed drive that was too hot for goalkeeper Oleksandr Shovkosvskyi to stop.