Les Bleus come back to beat Spain 3-1 | india | Hindustan Times
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Les Bleus come back to beat Spain 3-1

india Updated: Jun 28, 2006 03:23 IST

France scored two late goals on Tuesday to give the 1998 champions a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals with a 3-1 win over Spain.

David Villa had scored from the penalty spot in the 27th minute to give Spain the lead before Franck Ribery ran around goalkeeper Iker Casillas to equalise with a left-foot shot in the 41st. Patrick Vieira made it 2-1 in the 83rd minute and Zinedine Zidane scored the third in injury time.

France will face Brazil in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Frankfurt. Brazil beat Ghana 3-0 earlier Tuesday. Zidane, who will retire after the World Cup ends, took the free kick which made the difference.

His shot curled into the goalmouth, where a frantic Xabi Alonso headed it into the path of Vieira, who then headed it into the net off a deflection.

France defender Lilian Thuram conceded the early penalty with a push from behind on defender Pablo Ibanez. Villa's goal was his third of the tournament.

The game turned France's way in the 41st. Vieira sent Frank Ribery into open space and the Marseille winger swept the ball past Casillas with his right foot and slotted it home with his left, just ahead of two onrushing defenders.

The third goal came on a counter-attack as Spain was pressing for an equalizer. Zidane got into the area, cut inside Spain defender Carles Puyol and scored with a low right-foot shot. There would always be an edge to this old rivalry between neighbours, but the relentless whistling by Spanish fans during the Marseillaisse upped the ante even more.

France had never lost a competitive match to Spain and Tuesday marked the 22nd anniversary of its 2-0 defeat of Spain to win the 1984 European Championship.

The early nervousness in the match showed what was at stake. France wanted to prove its aging stars could still win while Spain was looking to end 76 years of World Cup futility. Zidane made the difference in midfield with several slick moves, still as good as a decade ago. With vision and precision, he set Henry free on the right, and his low cross was inexplicably missed by both Ribery and Vieira.

The former Real Madrid midfielder still weaved his old magic, with his unique mix of apparent nonchalance and lethal passing. Even when Spain scored against the run of play, the French kept looking forward.

Henry continued his lacklustre form during the World Cup and was caught offside three times late in the first half. Spain striker Raul Gonzalez was ineffective and was taken off in the 54th minute and replaced by Luis Garcia. That immediately put more weight on the French defence and Garcia had a dangerous header 10 minutes later.

Spain put its three substitutes on by the 72nd minute, a dangerous move with possible extra time looming. But striker Joaquin Sanchez also made his mark with a darting run and shot into the sidenetting a few minutes later

France started the match without David Trezeguet, leaving Henry alone up front with wingers Ribery and Florent Malouda further back.