The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Les Bleus’ back on track
LIZARAZU: A menace to Malta defence

Paris: Six weeks after they were beaten at home by the Czech Republic in a friendly, France showed with their 6-0 demolition of Malta they are determined to secure their place in the Euro 2004 finals as soon as possible.

Saturday’s sparkling performance earned the holders their fourth win to leave them away and clear in group I with 12 points. Israel, who face France in Palermo on Wednesday, and Cyprus, both have four points.

“It was a nice game. We have been patient and played well collectively,” defender Bixente Lizarazu said in L’Equipe on Sunday.

After 37 keyed-up minutes that featured a host of missed chances, the reigning European champions broke through with a powerful Sylvain Wiltord shot.

But it was his Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry who was France’s inspiration, scoring two and setting up another at Lens’s Stade Felix-Bollaert.

“Les Bleus” showed an enthusiasm which contrasted with the way they have sometimes played against modest teams.

The activity of Lizarazu on his left side typified the new attitude. He was a permanent menace to the Malta’s defence as he earned a penalty and almost scored a rare goal. “I ran a lot and almost scored. Had I found the net it would have been a miracle.”

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