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Henry crashes Brazil's Cup dream

india Updated: Jul 03, 2006 15:18 IST
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A Thierry Henry goal handed France a deserved 1-0 win over lacklustre defending champions Brazil in a World Cup quarter-final here on Saturday.

France, whose dominant midfield display was fired by the imperious Zinedine Zidane, will meet Portugal in Wednesday's semi-final in Munich.

"This is huge," gushed Zidane. "We had to put in a huge performance and we did so. We had to hold it together defensively."

"We deserve our victory. Now we will try and get into the final as we do not want it to end here. It is so wonderful that we want to carry on," added the 34-year-old, who is to retire after the campaign.

Henry scored in the 57th minute, drifting in late and unopposed at the far post to meet a Zidane free-kick with a right footed side-foot volley past a diving Dida.

The Arsenal ace said that it more than made up for the disastrous defence of their title in 2002 when they bowed out in the first round and he was sent-off in the 25th minute of the second match against Uruguay.

"I said before that we were not here to dream, but tonight is what dreams are made of," said the 28-year-old.

"We were determined after the 2002 World Cup to show that we were not soft touches. And now there is the answer we are not soft touches. And it is not finished."

The goal was just rewards for a French team often dubbed as too old and uninspiring which had controlled midfield thanks to the sterling efforts of man-of-the-match 'Zizou', who just as in the 3-0 victory in the 1998 World Cup final proved Brazil's nemesis.

The veteran captain showed some at-times sensational footwork in his golden boots and was the catalyst for a buoyant French team, even if his final balls tended to be overhit.

After a tight first-half with few chances and where Dida and counterpart Fabien Barthez were not tested, the game came alight in the second half.

Henry's goal spurred France into waves of counter-attacks against a Brazil side lacking any real creative purpose up front despite early glimpses of playmaker Ronaldinho's silky skills.

With their back four in disarray, Brazilian defender Juan almost deflected a cross into his own goal four minutes after Henry's goal - his third in this World Cup.

France's tough midfield holding duo of Patrick Vieira and Claude Makelele were quick to retreat and fill in as Brazil sought an equaliser, the most potent threat posed by Bayern Munich midfielder Ze Roberto down the left wing.

But it was France who should have scored a second, Franck Ribery sprinting past the covering defence in the 70th minute, but only snatching a shot from a Henry pass which was well parried by Dida.

With French tails well and truly up, Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira threw on Adriano to help out Ronaldo up front and the South Americans kept pushing.

Ronaldinho had a late chance with a free-kick two minutes from time, after Lilian Thuram brought down Ronaldo on the edge of area, but his swerving shot drifted high of its target.

And Ronaldo forced Barthez into an acrobatic save with a powerful 25-yard shot on the stroke of full-time. Ze Roberto went close with a diving nudge on the resulting corner but the French held out.

Brazil had opened the game brightly, Juninho having a free-kick headed behind by Patrick Vieira in the fourth minute, and Roberto Carlos blasting an ambitious shot high and wide of Barthez' goal five minutes later.

Ronaldo had the match's first real sight on goal minutes later, doing well to connect to a Ronaldinho free-kick above Willy Sagnol, but sending his header over the crossbar.

Florent Malouda headed just wide from a free-kick with seven minutes of the first-half to play. The half ended in controversy when Juan received only a yellow card for bringing Vieira down after the Juventus midfielder had sprinted through on to a superb Zidane through ball.

Ronaldo was then harshly yellow-carded when the resulting Henry free-kick hit his hand but Zidane's second effort on the edge of the area was driven into the wall.

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