July 02, 2006

France 1, Brazil 0: Les Bleus own Brazil. For the third time since 1986, France eliminated Brazil, with Thierry Henry's goal in the 57th minute proving decisive. The collapse of the defending champions, who were dominated in a manner not heretofore seen at this level, was utterly inexplicable. Another superb game by Zinedine Zidane, whose perfectly placed free kick found Henry wide open at the mouth of the Brazilian goal; amazingly, it was the first time in the 55 matches they had played together that Zidane had ever assisted on an Henry goal. Coming less than a week after conservative politician Jean Marie Le Pen had attacked the team for not reflecting the French people, a team whose starting line-up consists of seven black players, including Saturday's goal scorer, and is led by the child of Algerian immigrants can feel especially vindicated.

It sets up an all-Europe semifinal, with Axis powers Italy and Germany meeting on the 4th of July, while their wartime lackeys face off the following day. Brazil remains the only non-European team to take the Cup on European soil, while no European team has ever won the Cup outside the continent.

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