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Portugal ousts England, France eliminates Brazil
Latest Updated by 2006-07-03 08:31:09
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Lucky Portugal struggled into the 2006 World Cup top four after ousting England 3-1 on penalty shootout, while France stunned the world by eliminating Brazil on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo sealed Portugal's semifinal berth by striking into the right corner in the penalty shootout, after the English lost David Beckham to a leg injury and Wayne Rooney to a red card.

"I'm full of confidence and I shoot strong. I was tired in the second half but I haven't played for a week so it was OK," said the Manchester United star proudly.

An amazing night witnessed five shootout missed. Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher missed to end their hopes and Sven-Goran Eriksson's reign, while Petit and Hugo Viana put Portugal in danger after missing the target.

"We practised penalties so much, I really don't know what more we could do about it. I was sure these players could get to the final and we should have done it," said heart-broken Eriksson.

The Man-United forward wrestled for the ball with Ricardo Carvalho on the halfway line and stamped on the defender's crotch in the 62rd minute.

Argentina referee Horacio Elizondo showed the first red card of the match and sent Rooney off.

"We started the second half very well and controlled the game exactly what we wanted to do. Then there was the sending off. We held the game up very well and lost on penalties again and I'm really sorry about that," said Eriksson.

However, Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari did not think they got advantage over England after Rooney's sending off.

Scolari said: "We didn't take advantage, we shot too much from outside the area. England closed the way to goal very well and it was like playing against 11."

England dominated the first 20 minutes as Frank Lampard almost broke the tie in the 12th minute.

Rooney played a tight pass to Lampard in the area and the Chelsea man pulled back from the right to find the ball denied by Portugal goalkeeper Ricardo.

Portugal got the chance six minutes later when Luis Figo's free-kick turned England's defence into a mess.

Both sides got chances in the second half as Peter Crouch only just failed to get the ball to a teammate in the Portuguese area and Simon had a shot saved by Paul Robinson in the counter-attack.    

Eriksson was forced to change things six minutes into the second half with David Beckham struggling with an ankle problem.

Beckham almost won a penalty with his last contribution of the game, and probably his chances of winning a World Cup when his cross hit the hand of Nuno Valente but England's appeal came to nothing.

He was replaced by Aaron Lennon and was seen on the sidelines looking anguished as treatment was performed on his ankle.

England's best chance to score a goal was a set-piece and Lampard fired in a free-kick that Ricardo did well to keep out, with Lennon scuffing his attempt to put in the rebound.

"We gave a good performance but we're out and that's very painful. I'm sorry for the fans, who have been fantastic, we couldn 't give them a final," said Eriksson.

Portugal almost sealed a win in the second extra-time when Postiga headed home, but the goal was denied by referee Horacio Elizondo who saw the off-side clearly.

In Frankfurt, former World Cup champions France stunned the world after eliminating five-time title winners Brazil with a 1-0 victory in their quarter-final encounter.

Parreira took the responsibility, saying "I would like to thank the players. I didn't do my job as my job was to get to the final."

"In Brazil when the national team loses the coach is to blame so I believe we will follow this script once again. We never prepared for this moment. This is a very difficult moment for all of us," he added." the Brazilian coach added.

Arsenal striker Thierry Henry scored the decisive goal of Saturday's game, volleying in Zinedine Zidane's floated free-kick on the 57th minute while lingering unmarked at the back post.

"We played well. We didn't steal anything from anybody. We had a tactical plan and it worked perfectly," Henry said.

"We wanted to prove after what happened in 2002 that we were not rubbish," he added, referring to France's early exit four years ago.

France's playermaker Zidane, playing what could have been his last game, has been in full flow with his graceful sight and showed some sublime touches, while Brazil's attacking aces were disappointing and produced a similarly listless display with the 1998 final.

Zidane was moved to describe the 1-0 quarter-final win over Brazil as "beautiful".

Man-of-the-match Zidane said: "We needed a great match and we delivered. We knew we would have to be fit physically and we were.

Zidane, 34, has led the dazzling show in the center. He won back possession at the 28th minute and played a neat lay off to send France careering down the left to force a corner.

Again on 44 minutes, he collected, twisted and passed the ball to release Patrick Vieira before the Juventus midfielder was brought down by Juan.

It was also the Real Madrid midfielder who gave France the best chance in the additional minute of the first half. He drove a free-kick straightly at the wall after the referee forced the line back for full five meters since Henry's earlier free-kick hit the wall and Ronaldo's arm to force the second one.

"We fought closely together for a well-deserved victory. Now we'll try to win a place in the final. This is so beautiful, we want it to carry on," added Zidane, who retires after the World Cup.

Just three minutes ahead of Henry's goal, the former top scorer of England Premier league, whose back heel strike in box at the 52nd minute was just cleared by a Brazilian, slotted home after collecting Patrick Vieira's flick-on, but his effort was ruled out by a late wave of the lineman's flag for offside.

The last eight matchup between France and Brazil has been dubbed as a 1998 World Cup final rematch after eight years since the French side won a historic 3-0 against Brazil in Paris for their first ever world trophy.

Editor: Donald

By: Source: China View website
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