The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Brazil loses to France for the fourth time

Frankfurt, July 1: Defending champion Brazil was dumped out of the World Cup by its nemesis France, inspired by a rejuvenated captain, Zinedine Zidane.

France striker Thierry Henry, much reviled for not delivering in big matches, scored almost on the hour from a Zidane free kick.

Brazil, with its vaunted team sheet of attacking players, could not level the score. Instead of revenge for the 3-0 defeat in the World Cup final of 1998, Ronaldo, Cafu and Roberto Carlos, who had played in that game, left the field beaten by the better team.

France now has a four-game unbeaten streak against Brazil.

It will now play Portugal in the semi-final on Wednesday. With Brazil’s exit, both semi-finals will be all-European affairs for the first time since 1982.

Again it was Zidane who tormented Brazil, delivering the free kick from which the goal came and proving beyond doubt that Ronaldinho will have to do some more to wear the crown of the best player in the world.

Zidane, who had his 34th birthday during the tournament, sent the curling free kick to the unmarked Henry, who had the whole right side of the net for his right-footed volley.

The experienced French took out the five-time World Cup champion in a match stunning for its one-sidedness.

Moments after Henry’s goal, with the Brazilians totally flustered, France nearly got a gift own goal. But the French were so dominant it was unnecessary.

France began the tournament so poorly it appeared another first-round exit, on top of the flop four years ago, was likely.

It was a shocking exit for the pre-tournament favourite, which did not get a shot on goal in the opening half and had huge gaps in defence all night. Brazil’s stars were either invisible or inept.

Brazil had shown more initiative in a tight, tactical start dominated by an intense battle for possession and threatened after 11 minutes as Ronaldo headed a Ronaldinho free kick over.

France, gradually winning more balls in midfield and gaining confidence, dominated its opponents for most of a frustrating first period with few highlights.

Les Bleus hardly created a chance in those first 45 minutes but neither did their rivals, whose feared forwards failed to breach a watertight French defence.

The closest France came was in added time before the break when Patrick Vieira, beautifully set up by some Zidane wizardry, charged towards goal.

It took a late, dangerous tackle from Brazil defender Juan, who collected a yellow card for the offence, to stop the France midfielder.

France started the second half in determined fashion, Vieira heading a Zidane free kick wide before Henry headed into the net, also from a set piece, only to be flagged offside.

Clearly in control from then on, France thrilled the crowd with fluent moves and despite Ronaldinho’s efforts, including a free kick over the bar, it savoured a deserved victory.

Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who has been fending off criticism of his approach with the argument that the team was winning what if it didn’t play beautifully, would have a lot of explaining to do to his football-crazy country.

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