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World Cup
12 July 1998 Saint-Denis - Stade de France
Brazil France
France became the first host nation since Argentina in 1978 to lift the World Cup, following this well deserved 3-0 victory against an uncharacteristically below-par performance from holders Brazil in the Stade de France, St Denis. Extraordinary pre-match events included Ronaldo's exclusion and subsequent inclusion on the Brazilian team-sheet, and then the failure of Mario Zagallo's team to appear on the pitch for the customary warm-up, fuelled accusations of gamesmanship from the champions. Nevertheless, Zinedine Zidane's rare brace of headed goals comfortably killed off Brazil's disappointing defence of their title, and with a half-fit Ronaldo never in the contest, Emmanuel Petit's late third proved the icing on the cake for the French. Aime Jacquet remained faithful with Christian Karembeau and Stephane Guivarc'h, with the only change from the semi-final line-up being the inclusion of Frank Leboeuf for the suspended Laurent Blanc, whilst Brazil were supposedly at 'full-strength', Ronaldo apart, with the return of Cafu at right-back. The 'Dream Final', the hosts against the holders, France against Brazil, kicked off in a marvellous atmosphere, however, there was a distinct lack of colour in the stadium as the true supporters had to play second fiddle to the men in suits. France began by far the brighter of the two sides, but Brazil are notorious slow starters and with Ronaldo attempting to ease himself into the pace of the game there was little cause for alarm in the early stages. Newcastle-bound Guivarc'h, who by his own admission has had a disappointing competition, saw a couple of half chances miss the target, but the first 20 minutes were, by enlarge, typically cautious and nervy. It was evident from his lack of movement and his uncertainty in challenges that Brazil's greatest threat, Ronaldo, was not right at all and that seemed to have a negative effect on his team-mates whilst at the same time lifting the French. Rivaldo registered the first attempt on target when his powerful header from Leonardo's right-wing corner was easily saved by Barthez on 24 minutes. However, three minutes later, from France's first corner of the game, which was needlessly conceded by Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane went one better and opened the scoring. Emmanuel Petit swung over an inswinging corner from the right and Zidane was left unmarked to power home a downward header and send the whole of France into raptures. If the Brazilian side had been as lively as their coach Mario Zagallo who prowled the touch-line, they may have had a chance, but he was clearly furious with the lackadaisical approach adopted by his team. The French were in total control with Zidane, Petit and Deschamps dictating affairs in the centre of the park whilst Desailly and Leboeuf were untroubled by the feeble strikeforce of Bebeto and Ronaldo. And with Brazil's two main attacking outlets, Cafu and Roberto Carlos, being nullified by Lizarazu and Thuram, it was an unexpected easy ride so far for the home side. Guivarc'h should have increased the French lead right on the stroke of half-time, when he had all the time in the world to control the ball and pick his spot, but opted for a first-time left-footed volley that Taffarel managed to push around for the first of two corners. However, from the second, Zidane scored his and his country's second goal with an exact replica of his earlier header, but this time from Djorkaeff's left-wing delivery, to send France into the interval with a healthy two-goal advantage. Zagallo introduced Denilson for the ineffective Leonardo at the start of the second half, but incredibly decided against replacing the struggling Ronaldo, and there was definitely a better impetus to the South Americans for the next 15 minutes. Brazil's best chance of the game so far fell to Ronaldo himself when Dunga's free-kick reached him at the far post on 56 minutes, but with the angle narrowing and Barthez well-positioned, the striker fired straight into the 'keeper's midriff for a simple save. Desailly then cleared a Bebeto effort off the line and Guivarc'h again failed miserably to hit the target after latching onto Cafu's woeful header, before France were reduced to ten men when Desailly received his marching orders following his second bookable offence. Despite being down to ten men, France defended manfully and Brazil failed to find the weak link where they could take advantage of their extra man. Petit moved into central defence as Vieira was brought on for Djorkaeff and it was France who had the next real opportunity when substitute Dugarry, took over where Guivarc'h had left off, with another glaring miss wide of Taffarel's goal. With time running out Brazil were in serious danger of losing ony their second World Cup final out of six, with the other being against Uruguay in 1950. Denilson rattled the French crossbar in the closing minutes before Petit settled the contest with a wonderful breakaway goal, running 70 yards before beating Taffarel from 14 yards. The 3-0 victory was no more than the French deserved as they remained the only unbeaten side in France 98. Brazil were desperately disappointing, but take nothing away from Aime Jacquet's side, they produced a thoroughly professional and disciplined performance to ensure that the World Cup ended the century as it had begun - with the host nation - Uruguay in 1930 and France in 1998.

(0-1) Zidane (21). Emmanuel Petit swung in a left-footed corner from the right towards the near post of a crowded six-yard box, Zidane timed his run to perfection to arrive in front of his marker Leonardo, before guiding home a downward header beyond Tafferel's left hand and into the net from seven yards out.

(0-2) Zidane (45). In a carbon copy of the first goal but from the opposite side, the Juventus midfielder this time met Youri Djorkaeff's right-footed inswinging corner, taking advantage of a slip by his marker Dunga to power home another header, this time from eight yards, which beat Taffarel inside his right-hand post despite the attentions of Roberto Carlos on the goal-line.

(0-3) Petit (90). Alain Boghossian brought the ball out of the French half on a swift break following a Brazilian corner, he was quickly supported by Arsenal's Patrick Vieira, who slipped a first-time pass into the path of a 70-yard run from his Highbury team-mate on the left edge of the Brazilian box, and Petit ran onto the ball before firing home a low left-footed shot into Tafferel's bottom left-hand corner of the net from 14 yards.

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