The Guardian from London, Greater London, England on July 3, 2000 · 30
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The Guardian from London, Greater London, England · 30

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London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
Monday, July 3, 2000
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30
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4 The Guardian Monday July 3 2000 Euro 2000 final Frsm Richard Williams Lemerre knows how to attack but spare a thought for Blanc's back line No team had scored first against Italy since the finals of the tournament began. And that, at least before the start of last night's Euro 2000 final, seemed the most significant of the available statistics. If they managed once again to sneak a lead, would France stand a chance of regaining the initiative in the face of that implacable defence? Thanks to a certain amount of carelessness and profligacy, the French found themselves stuck with precisely that unenviable dilemma. And, ultimately, it became the making of them. When all hope seemed gone, a goal deep into injury-time enabled them to prolong the contest, opening the way for the strike that earns them an unquestioned place among the great international teams of history. Beautiful it may not have been. Glorious it certainly was. The De Kuip stadium, which until Thursday's dramatic second semi-final was scheduled to have presented the eye with an unbroken field of orange, was instead dressed in a coat of many colours, albeit with a heavy emphasis on shades of blue. A scattering of the Dutch fans who decided to attend the match despite their heroes' demise clearly could not bear to be parted from the uniform they had cherished so proudly. Having been the colour of a hangover on Friday morning, orange now became the emblem of mourning, i, Like, the rest of the non-aligned spectators, the bereaved Dutch came along mainly to see if the French player's could prove that their World Cup triumph two years ago was something more than just a combination of home advantage and catching Brazil on a day when Ronaldo wasn't feeling himself. France's current back four is certainly among the pre-eminent defensive units of all time, and going into last night's match Lizarazu, Blanc, Desailly and Thuram had never lost when playing as a quartet. Sadly, their greatest victory had come when one of their number was absent through an unfair suspension, so last night was also an occasion for Laurent Blanc, making the last Nobody can Jon Brodkin in Rotterdam By the looks of things Roger Lemerre has studiously avoided walking under ladders not just throughout this tournament but throughout life. And as he digested his side's remarkable comeback last night, he insisted it was a victory not just for France but for attacking football. "You can see that quite clearly," he said. "France is very fortunate to have young and talented players like Anelka, Wiltord, Henry, J 1 TTfWffETiTtll tf V)N CAi CllSCHARGf Htt)Lir,itI', Art f A COST OPIiCS AT tf.'iO France's Marcel Desailly takes WunfflBBI i.ES ffi S sss? . Trezeguet. It would have been wrong not to resort to the riches we have, so we chose this solution and I'm very happy that we were successful with it. "But also let me say that Italy, playing another type of football, have also been successful. This was the clash of two cultures and Italian football culture is highly efficient because it is also an attacking football. They know how to seize every opportunity they get." So expertly had Marco Delvecchio taken his chance 63 s gst m m Or St 11 tti '. ' m m&t ma 5S m im m m m m mmm mo m m m m III) 01 Mi on Italy's Alessandro del Plero France Italy ,8. .Attempts on target : . 3, : :,.10 Attempts off target . 9 7 . Blocked attempts I 0 -.7; Corners'' 4 .6 Offsides': 8 '. 17 Fouls. 28 ;..f YeSoW cards '-" 3, ' 0.;'Rey.'cards' V' '" .' .0..' si48Firstferf "82 : 56 ,Secoihalf '.'ivMX-. ,,Sui)'sutes Franco Wltord toruugarry.&smm,.-. TrKegietf6rDrltaeffi'77, Fires for Liz&razu, 86 Italy . Del Piero'for Floret S3, Ambrosini for Di Biagio, 69 Booked Franca Triuram KalyOijBfeaJo;Ca.aro, ; Totu ,!A..4.;;,.,V.;: . ' Referee A Frisk (Sweden) Attandance 51,000 scoff at us now, says Henry in the 55th minute that the ruddy-cheeked Lemerre admitted that as time slipped away he began to think victory was beyond him. "After the Italy goal and as time was going by we really feared the worst," he said. "In the team talk before the match we said that if there was still one second to go we had to play that second with maximum power. "But of course when you see the minutes going by hope becomes desperation and you hope for a miracle. That miracle did indeed m In yesterday's Euro 2000 final of his 96 appearances in the national shirt, to earn belated compensation for that unjus-tice. In fact Blanc was the outstanding performer of the first half, making his tackles and interceptions with typical perception and deftness. But this close-knit team was never going to find it easy going against the obdurate Italians. The tentative nature of their early play made them look more like very distant relatives than a family so well bonded that they refer to one another as Titi, Lolo, Manu, Zizou, Duga, Djouki, Nico, Didi, Liza and Bobo. One man alone lacks a nickname, although it would be hard to imagine anyone addressing Marcel Desailly as anything other than Marcel Desailly, unless it be as Monsieur Desailly. Roger Lemerre had made happen. It is the strong will of the team that made it possible for France to be world champions and now European champions." France, of course, have become the first World Cup holders to win the European title, and Lemerre can claim a hand in both. He was the assistant to Aime Jacquet when Les Blues won the World Cup on home soil two years ago and has led a squad containing many of the same players to another success. Two of his substitutes, Syl Photograph: Pawel Kopczynski the interesting but arguably overcautious decision to leave out Nicolas Anelka, probably reasoning that the Italians defend deep enough to make his fast-breaking game potentially less effective. Instead the coach reverted to the arrowhead formation tried against Spain, with Christophe Dugarry and Youri Djorkaeff positioned on the flanks, behind Thierry Henry and ahead of Zinedine Zidane. Unfortunately Dugarry, having made a fleeting impression in his appearances against Holland and Spain, chose the big occasion to revert to his more familiar habits of loose technique and sloppy thinking, wasting endless amounts of good possession throughout the first half. The rebuilt De Kuip retains the harsh ambiance of the bare vian Wiltord and David Trezeguet, conjured this win. The coach declined to compare the two triumphs but it was clear from the comments of Thierry United defenders who threw away their earplugs may have made an error tin drum that was its predecessor, and the silver-grey sky and heavy air intensified the atmosphere, but in truth the match lacked passion throughout the first period. When Filippo Inzaghi rose from the Italian substitutes' bench at half-time and walked across the pitch to the tunnel deep in conversation with Zidane, his Juventus club-mate, it seemed a civilised way of passing the time but hardly indicated the kind of emotional intensity that such a match should provoke. The second half presented a different prospect altogether. Zidane's decision to push further forward enabled him to create a number of fine openings wasted by his younger colleagues, but it also changed the emphasis of the play enough to allow Italy to Henry, who collected his third man of the match award, that in winning here the French feel they have proved an important point. "People said that in France we won because we had an easy group and played at home," the Arsenal striker explained. "We also only beat Italy in a penalty shoot-out. Here we had a very difficult group, we had difficult matches against Portugal and Spain, and we were able to prove here that we can win outside our country. spring forward down the right and produce the cross from which Marco Delvecchio scored the opening goal. And having achieved their target, Italy foolishly chose to put the emphasis firmly back on defence a decision that handed their opponents the initiative and enabled France's young substitutes to score the goals which wrote another glorious chapter in their country's football history. And only moments before Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Nesta failed to prevent the run and cross by Robert Pires from which David Trezeguet finished the match, who was down at the other end, calmly depriving Del Piero of the ball and setting up another attack? Why, Laurent Blanc, of course, without question the most deserving winner of them all. "Maybe people will say we are better now because we won away from home and had so many hard games to play. We have a great mentality, as you saw today and against Portugal. We were 1-0 behind in both games and we came back again and again. We have a lot of quality but without our mentality it would be difficult." Henry said the televised scenes on the Champs Ely-sees were "madness". How different from the desolation in the Italian dressing Portugal trio given long bans after dissent MarkTallentire Three key Portugal players have been hit with swingeing suspensions for their conduct in Wednesday's semi-final with France, sanctions which may seriously hinder their country's prospects of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. Abel Xavier, whose handball to concede a penalty in golden-goal extra-time was the catalyst for ugly scenes which included manhandling of officials and, according to Uefa, spitting at a linesman, was suspended from all matches in Uefa competitions for nine months for grabbing the referee's arm. Nuno Gomes, the scorer of Portugal's goal in the 2-1 defeat but sent off after Zinedine Zidane converted France's penalty, received an eight-month ban for a violent push on the referee Giinter Benko. Paulo Bento, who tried to take the red card from Benko, has been sidelined for six months. "I'm deeply shocked and disappointed," Xavier said. "I didn't expect a punishment of this nature. I did nothing wrong. The footage is available and people can watch it." Fifa, the world game's governing body, is expected to recognise the suspensions, ruling the trio out of Portugal's early World Cup qualifiers. The campaign begins against Estonia in September and is followed by matches with the Republic of Ireland and Holland in October. Xavier and Gomes will also miss the Andorra match in February. Gomes, who finished the tournament with four goals, will miss Benfica's Uefa Cup campaign in the autumn. Xavier and Bento, who play for Everton and Real Oviedo respectively, will be unaffected unless they are transferred to clubs who have qualified for Europe. "This does great damage to my career," Xavier added, "because there were clubs which were interested in me, clubs which are involved in European competitions." Portugal were also fined SFrl75,O0O (about 70,000). They have until midnight on Wednesday to appeal. The trouble began when the linesman Igor Sramka signalled handball by Xavier and kept his flag aloft after Benko awarded a corner. After consultation the penalty was awarded, whereupon the two officials were besieged. After Zidane scored, several Portuguese players ran to the linesman, who was pushed and insulted. "An unidentified player spat at him," Uefa's statement said. Italy were fined SFrl 2,000 for having four players booked and one sent off in their semifinal against Holland, who were fined SFr5,000 for having four players booked in the same match. room. "How do you expect me to feel?" said Italy's coach Dino Zoff as he contemplated the late twist of fate which denied him not only an unexpected success but a title to add to those he had won with Italy as a goalkeeper in the European Championship of 1968 and the World Cup in 1982. "We were sure of the victory and that victory slipped away in the last minute," he said. "This, of course, is very serious. But you cannot say my players did not put up a fight."

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