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18 June 1998 Group C Saint-Denis - Stade de France
France Saudi Arabia
The host nation easily saw off a weak Saudi Arabia side with this resounding 4-0 triumph in the Stade De France, St Denis, but once again the match was tinged with controversy. The refereeing precedent for France 98 has well and truly been laid down after this performance by Mr Brizio Carter of Mexico who followed on in the same vein as the Colombian referee this afternoon. Two further red cards were brandished, one for national hero Zinedine Zidane as the Tournament is in trouble of being reduced to chaos and confusion with players afraid to tackle. The French started the match at a furious pace and were well in control laying seige in the Saudi Arabian half with Zidane influential in midfield and Lilian Thuram and Thierry Henry marauding down the right flank. Saudi Arabia's already tough task was further hampered when al-Khilaiwi was unlucky to be sent off for a mistimed challenge on Lizarazu after 19 minutes. France immediately made their extra man advantage tell launching a succession of attacks with al-Deayea in the Saudi goal saving twice from Lizarazu before Zidane hooked a great chance wide after 28 minutes. Dugarry was replaced by David Trezeguet after suffering a hamstring injury and the substitute striker was soon in the thick of the action testing the 'keeper with a right-footed volley and a close-range header. France finally broke the deadlock on 36 minutes when Henry scored his second goal in two games following good work by Lizarazu, and the ten-man Saudis went in at half-time never having threatened the French goal. After the break it was one-way traffic as France continued to pour forward and Trezeguet could have won himself the "Golden Boot" if he had taken any number of the great chances that fell for him, before eventually nodding home France's second following a rare mistake from al-Deayea. The ecstatic home fans in a packed Stade De France were silenced on 70 minutes when their hero Zidane was stupidly sent off for an apparent stamp on Fuad Amin. Man-of-the-Match Henry soon increased the French lead with a quality finish and left-back Lizarazu capped another impressive display with the fourth goal. The Saudis, who become the first team to be eliminated from the second stage, were no match for a French side that have now scored seven goals, conceding none, and indeed the scoreline could have been far greater with 28 attempts at goal including 14 on target. The win sees the French sitting proud at the top of Group C with six points and they become the second side behind Brazil to qualify for the second stage. Zidane will miss the next match against Denmark at least and will have to wait to see if a FIFA disciplinary committee increase his punishment.

(1-0) Henry (36). Zidane played a lovely pass in behind the Saudi right-back al-Jahani for the flying Lizarazu whose low delivery across the face of goal was easily side-footed home by Henry with his left foot from six yards giving 'keeper al-Deayea no chance.

(2-0) Trezeguet (68). Thuram hammered over a cross from the right and the hapless 'keeper al-Deayea allowed the ball to slip from his grasp and loop into the air for the substitute striker to head easily home into the empty net from a couple of yards.

(3-0) Henry (77). Barthez's long clearance caught out the Saudi defence with Khamis al-Owairan failing to connect and the pacy winger ran on to slide a marvellously cool right-footed finish inside al-Deayea's left-hand post from 12 yards.

(4-0) Lizarazu (85). Substitute Pires cut in from the left touch-line to play a pass into fellow substitute Djorkaeff and his wonderful flick into the path of the on-running full-back was smashed left-footed past al-Deayea and into the far corner.

 
 
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