France Terminates Denmark, Holland tormented to win

Published June 12th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

 

France, who terminated Denmark 3-0 in their Euro 2000 opener, has seen them installed as the new title favorites. 

"We're off and running just like in 98," ran the front page headline in L'Equipe, referring to the last finals match the French played, the 3-0 win over Brazil in the World Cup final in July, 1998. 

And The strike-force partnership of Arsenal's Thierry Henry and Real Madrid's Nicolas Anelka, playing for just the second time together, was impressive, tearing great holes in an overstretched Danish defense. 

Anelka could have scored twice himself in the first half as his pace left the Danish defenders stranded. It was his lunge at goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel's feet that produced the loose ball from which Laurent Blanc opened the score after 16 minutes. 

Henry took over after that and his 64th minute strike from a Zinedine Zidane's flick was sheer class, speeding away from the Danes and curling a right-footer around Schmeichel. 

"France are a fantastic team and when they have the ball at their feet they have a lot of speed which you saw in evidence tonight," said Denmark's Swedish coach Bo Johansson.  

"But it is not just their pace - they are extremely good all-round footballers as well." 

French coach Roger Lemerre was delighted with the performance, saying: "These world champions have a desire that has stayed the same for two years. Sometimes you just have to pay tribute to them." 

The 1998 World footballer of the year Zidane was imperious against the Danes, deftly probing and pulling the Danes out of position. He never wasted a ball and his flicks and feints created spaces for the youthful front two. 

But tactical options apart, the French have seldom looked better and they approach their remaining two Group D qualifiers against the Czech Republic and the Netherlands with something approaching a swagger  

HOLLAND RACES TO A DIFFICULT WIN 

Holland achieved a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic at the Amsterdam Arena, Sunday, in their first competitive match since their World Cup semifinal against Brazil. 

In the end it was the Czechs who were crying at the final whistle after Frank de Boer's 89th minute penalty earned a victory in their opening Euro 2000 match very much against the run-of-play. 

A cross from substitute Marc Overmars did not look particularly dangerous but Jiri Nemec tugged at the shirt of Holland's Ronald de Boer. 

Italian referee Pierluigi Collina had no hesitation in awarding the penalty and Ronald's brother Frank tucked away the penalty to earn a priceless win for the co-hosts. 

The 51,000 supporters, nestled in the gladiatorial-style arena, were satisfied however when Ronald de Boer's shirt was tugged and his twin brother and skipper Frank knocked away the penalty. 

Jaap Stam left the field for several minutes midway through the second half leaving Holland to play with 10 men and Rijkaard explained what was going on. He said Stam came off and needed stitches above his eye. 

Man-of-the-match Nedved was delighted with their performance despite defeat. "I think we played a fantastic match. I think it's the first time in my life I have lost a game in such a style. 

"We had prepared for two years for this match and this competition and I could see the result. Unfortunately we could not do more." 

He was disappointed with the decision of Collina to give Radoslav Latal, who had been substituted, a red card while on the bench moments before the match. "In my opinion, he (Collina) had some personal influence in this match but I do not have anything against him," Nedved said – (AFP) 

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

You may also like