ZINEDINE ZIDANE, this year’s man of destiny, knew he would score against Ricardo, the goalkeeper who saves penalties.
So Zizou whacked the ball and it went in, although Ricardo read it and got a touch.
That was 1-0 in 33 minutes and that goal ended the game.
It was a 33-minute game.
It was obvious there would be no more goals. Portugal could not score and France did not need to, so very little would happen after that.
The penalty was awarded for a trip by Carvaldo on Henry, who had flicked the ball away from him. Carvalho missed the ball with one leg but stuck out the other and caught Henry on the shin. Henry thought about going down, then fell, and ref Jorge Larrionda of Uruguay gave the penalty.
Before that Maniche hit a screamer just over the bar and Figo fired a shot as Vieira arrived too late and his follow-through took his thigh into Vieira’s hip bone, which hurt Figo.
As expected, Costinha could not get near Zidane, and, surprisingly, Deco was even worse than Ballack had been the night before, so it was no contest.
Portugal were out-muscled and outclassed by France, who cruised through a game that became very sloppy and scrappy.
Second half started, I thought France might score again before 55 minutes. Henry and Ribery had shots, and then Pauleta turned and shot sweetly, but hit the side-netting.
There was no real tension because both teams, and the crowd, knew that Portugal could not score.
MAKELELE again demonstrated the dark art of knee-karate, this time on right back Miguel. Maka is a subtle assassin whose fouls are martial, small movements invisible to the naked eye in real time, always innocent-looking, always accidental-looking, always painful. Miguel limped off and Paulo Ferreira came on.
CRISTIANO RONALDO was booed throughout, especially by English fans in the ground, but used his dribbling skills to attack the box at pace. He was the only player who threatened France but he was playing them on his own.
In 77, Ronaldo hit a fierce free-kick, the bizarre Barthez spooned it up in the air with both wrists, like a volleyball player, giving Figo an easy header, which he sent over the bar.
Portugal don’t score goals. All their strikers are nearly-men.We saw that that in Euro ’96 and we have seen it ever since. Pretty football in two thirds of the pitch, no finish.
In three knock-out games against Holland, England and France they have scored only one goal!
FIGO’S MISS was the worst of the tournament.
Overall, Portugal embarrassed themselves. The behaviour of their players, diving again and again, squealing every time they were touched, was appalling. They are cheats. Their bench catapulted up in protest every time one of their players went down, so they made utter fools of themselves.They are cheats as well.
THIS, truly, was the worst of Portugal’s character. We have seen it before many times.They have the skill to play great football but their temperament always lets them down.
BIG PHIL had won seven out of seven for Brazil, and five out of five for Portugal, so this was massive moment in his life with big pressure and maximum frustration – his first World Cup Finals defeat.
But even if you are gutted, you should not behave like that. It’s a really bad advertisement for Portugal and for football. Big Phil was small last night and that was sad to see.
I watched this game on a big flatscreen TV at Ian Grant’s office.
Ian has backed France to win the World Cup at 10-1 and we both think France will beat Italy. But we are worried that Barthez is more of a buffoon than Buffon.
It was a muggy night and at half-time Ian locked the gate but left the front door ajar to allow air to flow through the building. After the game we came upstairs from the boardroom to the ground floor and Ian saw a fox, which saw him and quickly nipped out of the door.
I didn’t see it.
We ran outside but the animal had disappeared. It was a shame the fox didn’t come downstairs and watch the game with us. It could have had a saucer of white wine and some Sainsbury’s crisps.