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Finals
 
3 July 1998 Saint-Denis - Stade de France
Italy France
After extra time and penalties.
France became the first side to book their semi-final place as they continued Italy's World Cup penalty heartbreak in a pulsating game in the Stade de France. With the ninety minutes and the unpredictability of the Golden Goal failing to separate the sides, France edged out the Italians 4-3 as Italy lost their third consecutive World Cup shoot-out, having lost on penalties in the 1990 semi-finals and the 1994 final. Victory was well-deserved however for the host nation who move ever closer to their first ever World Cup final appearance. The French totally dominated both possession and chances but could not find a way past an outstanding and disciplined Italian rearguard. The French began at a blistering pace with Zinedine Zidane, back from a two match suspension, eager to make up for lost time by giving his side an early lead. The midfielder nearly did so after only four minutes but for a stunning save from Gianluca Pagliuca who touched away Zidane's fierce effort for a corner. Pagliuca then denied the French again from the resultant set piece, with a fingertip stop from an Emmanuel Petit hooked shot. As France became encamped in the Italian half, Newcastle new boy Stephane Guivarc'h was proving to be a constant threat in attack, and he created a superb chance in 23 minutes. From his inch perfect through ball, Youri Djorkaeff wriggled free from the close attentions of his Inter Milan team-mate Bergomi to make room for the shot but fellow Frenchman Christian Karembeu took the ball from Djorkaeff's foot as he prepared to take aim, and Pagliuca gratefully gobbled up the chance. Italy's only attempt to make an impact rested on the hope of an occasional counter-attack and with it welcome respite from France's constant pressure, and they came close just after the hour mark when Christian Vierri tested Barthez witha rasping left-foot 25 yarder which the keeper did well to beat away. That was the only glimpse of Italy's attacking intent however and France unsurprisingly had the final chance of the half, with Djorkaeff playing a neat one-two with Deschamps, only to shoot wide. After such an entertaining first half, Italy's resolve in defence wore down France's flowing football as the game wore on and it was left to the invention of Zidane to try to make the breakthrough. In 64 minutes the midfielder sped through the Italian challenges to provide Christian Karembeu with a golden chance from a glorious cut-back but he blasted wide with only Pagliuca to beat. The introduction of substitutes Henry and Trezeguet provided an injection of freshness upfront as the French side picked up the pace yet again. Indeed, Henry almost made an instant impact, curling an effort just past the top left-hand corner. Despite all France's pressure and chances they simply could not find a way past the Italians who nearly snatched a dramatic winner towards the end of normal time with Di Biaggio just over with a header while Barthez also saved from Pessotto. The expectant French crowd willed a repeat of France's second round Golden Goal success but it was Italy who had the best chance in sudden death with Roberto Baggio desperately unlucky when an instinctive volley crept just past the post. With the sides tied at three apiece after eight kicks from the penalty mark, with France's Lizarazu and Italy's Cannavaro having missed their spot-kicks. France's Golden Goal hero Laurent Blanc calmly tucked away his side's fifth attempt, leaving all the pressure on Italy's Luigi Di Biagio who struck the bar to leave the Italians rueing their luck once again and leave the host nation anticipating a semi-final meeting against either Germany or Croatia.
Penalties
(1-0) (1-0) Zidane (1-1) (1-1) Baggio, R
(1-1) (1-1) Lizarazu (saved) (1-1) (1-1) Albertini (saved)
(2-1) (2-1) Trezeguet (2-2) (2-2) Costacurta
(3-2) (3-2) Henry (3-3) (3-3) Vieri
(4-3) (4-3) Blanc
(4-3) (4-3) Di Biaggio (missed)
 
 
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