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  Results & Reviews: Match 26

  

Shocker!
Greece stuns defending European champions France, advance to semis

Greece achieved one of the biggest upsets in European Championship history Friday, beating defending champion France 1-0 to advance to the semifinals of Euro 2004.

Werder Bremen striker Angelos Charisteas scored in the 66th minute with a header as Greece, which had never won a game in a major tournament prior to Euro 2004, snapped France's 22-match unbeaten streak.

"We tried everything, but could not find a way past this very strong Greece team," midfielder Robert Pires said. "It's time to turn the page, time to look ahead and that means the World Cup in 2006."

Defender Lilian Thuram, earning his 103rd cap, was equally disappointed.
 
 
Summary

Quarter-Final 25 June 2004 1945 CET

Luz, Lisbon Attendance 45,390

0:1

Charisteas 66
France (4-4-2) Barthez; Thuram, Gallas, Silvester, Lizarazu; Pires, Makelele, Dacourt (Wiltord 72), Zidane (Rothen 79), Henry, Trezeguet (Saha 72).
Greece (4-4-2) Nikopolidis; Setairidis, Dellas, Kapsis, Fyssas; Karagounis, Zagorakis, Katsouranis, Basinas (Tsiartas 85); Nikolaidis (Lakis 61), Charisteas.
Referee Anders Frisk (SWE)

"We were not expecting it. We played this Euro to win," he said. "Tonight, we started to play only when it was too late. We pushed, we tried, but we took a goal on their only chance."

For the first time in the history of the quadrennial tournament, which began in 1960, Europe's five biggest soccer powers all failed to make the semifinals. Germany, Italy and Spain were eliminated in the first round, and England lost its quarterfinal to Portugal on Thursday.

"We justified our presence here. Everything is possible now," Charisteas said. "We had to be completely focused.

"I'm extremely happy that I've been able to help my team because I scored, and I think we can do even better."

France's bewildered players slumped to the ground in disbelief after the final whistle, while the jubilant Greek squad rushed toward their fans, linking arms and jumping up and down in celebration. It was a bad tournament for France, which failed to get past the first round of the 2002 World Cup as the defending champion.

"We weren't thinking clearly towards the end of the match," said France coach Jacques Santini, in charge of France for the last time before taking over Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League.

"We were just rushing forwards and that was not the best way to go about it. It's a big disappointment. We had hoped to get to the final," Santini said.

Greece will face either the Czech Republic or Denmark in the semifinals on Thursday in Porto's Dragao stadium.

Greece, which also beat tournament host Portugal in the opening game, punished the French for wasting several chances. Captain Theodoros Zagorakis chipped the ball over Lizarazu and sped down the right. From his cross, Charisteas' header left goalkeeper Fabien Barthez no chance.

"I'm upset about the goal," Bayern Munich's Lizarazu said. "I saw the ball and committed myself too early and they scored.

"It's hard to judge this match," he added. "We had the impression we dominated in every department."

Thierry Henry almost equalized with three minutes left, but his powerful header flew past the post.

Coach Otto Rehhagel's Greece side started brightly and Charisteas just failed to head a cross by midfielder Panagiotis Fyssas.

On two-time European champion France's first attack, Georgios Karagounis clattered into Zinedine Zidane and picked up a yellow card. Zidane had one of his poorest games in recent memory and was ineffective.

The teams were meeting for the seventh time, with Greece winning its first encounter.

France started with Olivier Dacourt replacing the injured Patrick Vieira in midfield and coach Jacques Santini again leaving veteran defender Marcel Desailly on the bench.

Midfielder Themistoklis Nikolaidis tried his luck with a long-distance effort, but his 14th-minute strike was comfortably saved by goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.

The Greek fans cheered loudly a minute later, convinced their team had taken the lead.

Karagounis swung in a free-kick and Costas Katsouranis turned the ball onto the post with Barthez stranded. But he recovered to stop the ball on the line.

France responded with a neat move down the left, with Zidane putting Lizarazu through. From the defender's cross, Henry headed wide.

In the 28th, defender Mikael Silvestre failed to clear the ball. It fell kindly to Katsouranis and his shot bounced up into the arms of Barthez.

Barthez again had to be alert, tipping over a dipping 25-yard shot from Fyssas in the 37th minute. Zidane was shown a yellow card just before the interval after clipping an opponent's heel.

France began the second half positively and Henry fired narrowly wide from 15 yards with an acrobatic shot on the turn.

Lizarazu burst through the defense in the 57th minute but was unable to line up a shot. Henry then crossed to the left and the ball seemed destined for the head of David Trezeguet before Mihalis Kapsis cleared it away.

With France pressing hard, Henry and William Gallas tried their luck with half chances that did not trouble 'keeper Antonios Nikopolidis.

With 20 minutes left, Santini brought on Louis Saha in place of Trezeguet and Sylvain Wiltord for Dacourt in a bid to break down Greece's stern rearguard.

In the 87th, French hopes disappeard as Henry, meeting Thuram's cross from the right, placed his header wide, wasting his team's last chance.
- AP

 

 

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  Match Stats

FRA vs GRE
0 Goals 1
0 Halftime 0
3 Corners 3
0 Offsides 1
24 Fouls 14
2 Yellow cards 2
0 Red cards 0
15 Free kicks 23
7 Shots on target 5
6 Shots off target 0
0 Woodwork 0
4 Saves 4
0 GL Clearances 0
57% Possession 43%

 

 

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