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Friday, June 18, 2004
The One Where France Nearly Defeated (again??) 

I managed to stay up early morning to watch Euro 2004 match between France vs Croatia. Based from history, Croatia never manage to steal a single point from France in every competetive tournament. In World Cup 1998, the Croats led France by one goal before defender Thuram scored twice to bring France into the Final. (I remembered the headlines in sport section of the Sun on the next day - 'Two-Rams..' ) Last night, France fielded a different line-up compared to their winning team against England. Desailly was brought back into the team after recovered from injury, Lizarazu was not playing, Gallas played as a full-back switching position with Thuram. Pires was replaced by Wiltord and injured Makelele was replaced by Dacourt.

The defending champion dominated most of the first half. Hard enough to see Croatia to have the ball, mazy dribbles Zidane, exchanged passes to Henry, Vieira, and Wiltord.. It was all France.. Twenty minutes gone, Zidane won a free-kick, he whipped it cross, Silvestre missed it, but Croatian defender Tudor unluckily slightly deflected the ball into his own net to claim the first own goal of the tournament. Just before half time, Zidane showed another magic. Henry swung a corner kick, brilliantly (I cant describe with a correct word here... can somebody help me please.. watch it and describe it if u can) flick by Zidane, only Gallas to head it wide. (It surely be one of the best goal if it went into the back of the net)..

Second half began, Croatia seemed to have a different team. France conceded a penalty (Sylvestre Silvestre, Man U again??) just after 3 minutes and Rapaic stroke it hard to prevent Barthez from stopping it.. 1-1. Just for minutes later another messed up on the left of France defenders, Prso received the ball, flicked it from Sylvestre Silvestre, Desailly missed the clearance and Prso punished the school boy error by an unstoppable volley. Croats are up high with a probable sweet revenge.. 2-1 to Croatia.. France began to sweat.. however they were lucky when Tudor made a silly backpass, keeper Butina tried to clear, Trezequet challenged. the ball hit Trezeguet's hand, the Juventus striker easily collected it and sent it into the net.. Croat tried to protest, but the hand-ball was clearly unintentional.. 2-2.. with 30 minutes to play.. it could be a goal-fest game.. Butina made a couple of good saves to denied France a win.. then at the death, Croatia sent the ball long on a counter attack from the left, sub Molnar clever turned to fool the defender but kicked it wide from point blank.. Both teams settled with a 2-2 draw..

In another group B match, England relive their chance into quarter final with a win against Switzeland. Two goals from the youngest scorer of Euro, Rooney and one from Gerrard wrapped the game at 3-0. Yesterday in group A, Greece spoiled Spain chance to become the first team to qualify into quarter when Charisteas erased Morientes one goal lead. 1-1 the score. Earlier on, host Portugal won 2-0 against Russia. Goals from Maniche and Rui Costa.

Portugal 2 : (Maniche 7', Rui Costa 89')
Russia 0
(MoM : Maniche)

Spain 1 : (Morientes 28')
Greece 1 (Charisteas 66')
(MoM : Raúl)

Croatia 2 : (Rapaic 48' pen, Pršo 52' )
France 2 : (Tudor 22' o.g., Trezeguet 64')
(MoM : Pršo)

England 3 : (Rooney 23', 75', Gerrard 82')
Switzeland 0
(MoM : Rooney)

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