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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Zidane takes France to the World Cup Final

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Zidane and France performed in a very good style to win 1-0 over Portugal and qualiofy for the World Cup Final. The French star scored the only goal from the penalty spot.

For flashiness, Portugal's new star Cristiano Ronaldo may even have outshone the 34-year-old Zidane, now one game away from winning a second World Cup after their 1998 title.

However, while the talented Manchester United player strained France's notoriously well-glued defences, he tried too often to turn Portugal's attack into a one-man show.

But history will tell that in Wednesday's semi-final, it was the Zidane penalty curse that crushed the Portuguese and handed them their first defeat in 18 encounters.

Indeed, a 33rd-minute penalty shot by Zizou was enough to stop Portugal by the same score this time - six years after a "Zizou" spot kick ousted them in a tumultuous 2002 European championship semi-final that saw Figo walk off the field really angry.

It's fair top say that Zidane, three-time World Footballer of the Year, plans to retire from the game after this World Cup, but it was clear he wanted the shot at that second trophy. He directed the French like a king -- occasionally acting a bit like one too, when he was fouled.

But he blasted home the penalty past Ricardo - one of this Cup's best goalkeepers - flashed the Zidane magic, fought for the ball and even defended as the Portuguese pressed for the equaliser.

And When Nuno Valente brought down Zidane with a minor foul, the Everton defender respectfully patted the French skipper on the head. When Cristiano Ronaldo and Zidane exchanged a handshake after a tussle, it seemed more of a gesture between equals.

Furthermore, Figo had trained only lightly before the game and nearly headed the equaliser on 77 minutes after a doubtful Fabien Barthez let a Ronaldo free kick bounce off his chest.

When the game was over, it was clear that no matter how many talented players Potugal have, Zidane is one of the greatest footballers of history.

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