France beat Portugal 1-0 and reach FIFA World Cup final
Wednesday, July 5, 2006
An experienced French side beat Portugal 1-0 in an unspectacular semi-final of the FIFA World Cup in Munich, Wednesday.
The team that lined up against Luis Felipe Scolari's side had an average age over 30 and after they went ahead from a 32 minute Zinedine Zidane penalty used their experience to control the game.
In the second half French tactics became increasingly defensive which saw ball possession go from a direct split at half time to 59 per cent in favour of Portugal as, at times, every French man sat back in his own half of the pitch.
There were few good chances in a slow game and in the first half Portugal were particularly guilty of wasting possession near the French box, giving Portugal's only striker Pauleta no chance.
On 23 minutes Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo swapped sides but this did not seem to help. French defending was tight and the majority of shots at goal Portugal got were from long range.
On 38 minutes Ronaldo created the best chance; on the left touchline he got past two French players and ran almost 30 yards into the penalty area. His shot was deflected away by a diving Liliam Thuram challenge.
France were also unable to get a sight of goal, confined to three efforts in the first period, to which they were to add two more in the second. The only goal came from a penalty awarded on the half hour when Thierry Henry wrong-footed Ricardo Carvalho and the Chelsea defender impeded Henry's movement with a leg.
Ricardo had saved three penalties against England in the quarter-final shootout but Zidane's low shot to his right just evaded his finger tips.
Portugal did not score in their quarter-final and they were not to score in the semi-final. They came closest to scoring on a Fabien Barthez error when the veteran of France's successful 1998 World Cup campaign failed to catch Ronaldo's driven free kick. He somehow managed also to throw the ball onto Figo's head but the Portugal captain did not keep it down.
Two minutes into added time Fernando Miera had a sight of goal at the edge of the French area but the central defender hit the ball high and wide.
It did not seem like a 100 per cent effort from the French team who might be glad that the game did not go to a punishing Extra Time. Italy awaits Raymond Domenech's side in the Olympiastadion, Berlin, on July 9.
|July 45, 2006
|Zidane 32' (pen)
|Fabien Barthez (GK)
|Zinedine Zidane (C)
Coach: Raymond Domenech
|Ricardo Carvalho 83'
|Luís Figo (C)
- 62' Paulo Ferreira
- 68' Simão Sabrosa
- 75' Hélder Postiga
Coach: Luis Felipe Scolari
- "France 1-0 Portugal" — , July 5, 2006
- "Fifa match report" — , July 5, 2006
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