World Cup: France lives dangerously against Portugal, but wins

, posted: 6-Jul-2006 10:02

LeCoq Tres SportifLuiz Felipe Scolari's side will play Germany for the third prize in this World Cup, but Portugal could just as well have met Italy in the final in Berlin.

France, which beat Brazil soundly in the quarter finals, didn't put in a convincing performance against Portugal this morning and the 1-0 result really doesn't tell the whole tale. Henry was tripped up just inside the Portuguese box and Zidane put the penalty box only just past a flying Ricardo.

After the French goal, the game died down. Zidane took it easy and the French decided to milk out the lead until the end of the game. Portugal wasn't able to do anything much about it until the end, when Barthez especially engaged in some eccentric goal tendering that could've cost the French dearly. The French defence also slipped up several times and Portugal had at least three good chances towards the end of the game with Figo trying his best, but... nothing came out them. Goalie Ricardo joined in on the attacks too towards the end as well - all in vain.

As a side note, Portugal's C Ronaldo was spectacularly unpopular with the crowd. He was booed and whistled at with great gusto each time he went near the ball, something that can't have helped his game. There was a fair bit of diving by the Portuguese, but the ref would have none of it. Luckily, the game wasn't a repeat of the scrappy match against the Netherlands. Only two yellow cards were handed out, and the last one against Saha was highly dubious (the video replay showed him clearly going for the ball, not the player).

There's no doubt though that France will have to play much better in the final match however. Italy has had an easy tournament, and they looked fresh and strong against Germany which really wasn't a walk-over side. Les Bleus versus Gli Azzurri - history says Italy will win, but here's hoping Zidane fires on all cylinders again, like he did against Brazil.

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