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  Results & Reviews: Match 20

  

Just in time
Henry's late double gives France Group B title, 3-1 win over Switzerland

Thierry Henry scored two late goals Monday as defending champion France reached the Euro 2004 quarterfinals after a 3-1 win over Group B rival Switzerland.

Zinedine Zidane gave France the lead with a 20th-minute header, before 18-year-old Johann Vonlanthen leveled for the Swiss in the 26th to become the youngest scorer in European championship history.

Henry settled the match with a 76th-minute tap-in after being set up by substitute Louis Saha, then added his second with a superb solo run and finish in the 84th.

The win means France tops the group with seven points and advances to a quarterfinal clash with Greece. England, with six points, also qualifies after beating Croatia 4-2 and now meets host Portugal. Croatia finished third in the group with two points, while Switzerland has one point.
 
Summary

Group B 21 June 2004 1945 CET

Coimbra Municipal, Coimbra Attendance 30,000

1:3

Vonlanthen 26

Zidane 10
Henry 76,84
Switzerland (4-3-2-1) Stiel; Henchoz (Magnin 86), Mueller, M.Yakin, Spycher; Wicky, Cabanas, Vogel; H.Yakin (Huggel 60), Gygax (Rama 86); Vonlanthen.
France (4-4-2) Barthez; Sagnol (Gallas 46, Boumsong 90), Thuram, Silvestre, Lizarazu; Pires, Vieira, Makelele, Zidane; Henry, Trezeguet (Saha 75).
Referee Lubos Michel (SLK)


"Our objective is to reach the final," said France coach Jacques Santini. "We had prepared for this game as if it was a knockout match.

"To reach the quarterfinals, you need a good team. Greece beat Portugal and held Spain to a draw. They have a solid, compact team.

"Tonight we'll meet our wives. It's good that we won because they'd be the first to criticize us," he said.

Henry's double took his tally to 27 in 61 games, ending a goal drought for the striker who had not scored in his last five games for Les Bleus.

"I have respect for Greece but still, it's better to avoid Portugal," Henry said.

France showed its attacking intent after just 36 seconds when David Trezeguet's volley was deflected for a corner.

Les Bleus soon threatened again. Robert Pires, restored to his favored left-midfield role, passed to playmaker Zidane but the Real Madrid star's weak shot trickled wide.

But France had a scare in the ninth minute, when Ricardo Cabanas whipped in a cross from the right and playmaker Hakan Yakin poked the ball just wide.

The skillful Yakin then forced goalkeeper Fabien Barthez into an athletic save in the 14th minute with a brilliant free kick from 20 meters (yards).

In the 19th, Yakin weaved his way through to goal but slipped just before he could shoot.

But the French responded well a minute later when Zidane nodded Pires' corner past 'keeper Jorg Stiel to settle the nerves. The goal was Zidane's third of the tournament and 26th in 92 internationals.

Defender Bixente Lizarazu almost doubled the lead moments later, but his powerful spinning shot was headed away for another corner. France forced seven corners in the opening 24 minutes.

Henry almost scored but placed a free header over the crossbar.

Vonlanthen leveled in the 26th minute, collecting a pass from the impressive Cabanas and slotting neatly past Barthez from 10 meters.

Vonlanthen became the youngest ever scorer in the competition, beating the mark set earlier in the tournament by England's Wayne Rooney. The 18-year-old Vonlanthen, who plays for Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, was born Feb 1, 1986. Rooney was born Oct 24, 1985.

"We sensed we could do something special out there tonight," said Swiss defender Patrick Mueller. "But the difference between the teams is Zidane and Henry. They only need a chance and then that's it, they've made the difference."

Vonlathen played alone up front, while fellow striker Alexander Frei sat out the match.

UEFA suspended Frei for the rest of Euro 2004 on Monday for spitting at England midfielder Steven Gerrard in the teams' earlier group B game.

France started the second half nervously and struggled to find its rhythm. Santini replaced the injured Willy Sagnol with William Gallas at right-back.

Sagnol, who wore a cast on his left arm, will undergo x-ray on Tuesday to see the extent of the injury.

"I received an elbow to my arm," he said. "It's either ligament damage or broken. We will see."

Henry, who looked frustrated, picked up a yellow card from referee Lubos Michel after appearing to dive to win a penalty in the 47th minute.

In the 54th, Pires fired a long-range shot which Stiel gathered easily. Moments later, David Trezeguet failed to make proper contact with a pass with only Stiel to beat.

Lizarazu fired well over from 25 meters (yards) as Les Bleus struggled to create for strikers Henry and Trezeguet.

Although the Swiss enjoyed lots of possession, 'keeper Fabien Barthez was well protected by Lilian Thuram and Mikael Silvestre who dealt well with long balls pumped into the box.

Santini, looking to assure victory, replaced the ineffective Trezeguet with Louis Saha, whose first touch was to head the ball backward to Henry, who profited from a slip by Stiel for a simple tap-in.

Henry almost notched again in the 82nd minute but placed his header straight at Stiel. Two minutes later, he grabbed his second of the night, setting off on a trademark mazy run, cutting into the area and planting the ball into the bottom corner.
- AP

 

 

  Group Standings

Group B

France 3 2 1 0 7 4 7
England 3 2 0 1 8 4 6
Croatia 3 0 2 1 4 6 2
Switzerland 3 0 1 2 1 6 1

 

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  Match Stats

SWI vs FRA
1 Goals 3
1 Halftime 1
1 Corners 7
0 Offsides 2
20 Fouls 17
3 Yellow cards 1
0 Red cards 0
19 Free kicks 21
4 Shots on target 10
3 Shots off target 7
0 Woodwork 0
3 Saves 2
0 GL Clearances 0
48% Possession 52%

 

 

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