Brazil's defence of the World Cup ended tamely in Frankfurt at the quarter-final stage with a 1-0 defeat against the France team that beat them in the 1998 final and had their measure again.
Thierry Henry's second-half strike, his third goal of the tournament, was
enough to kill off Carlos Alberto Parreira's side who produced a display bereft
of any of the football the five-times world champions are famous for.
The likes of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho were unable to make any headway against
Les Bleus, who won the tournament last time it was staged in Europe and now
could well do so again, with their next assignment a semi-final in Munich with
Apart from the opening 10 minutes and a late Brazil rally, the French
dominated the match and got the reward they deserved after 57 minutes when Henry
netted his third goal of the tournament.
Henry's winner was a far-post volley from a free-kick delivered by
inspirational playmaker Zinedine Zidane, the hero of the 1998 final who will
retire when France's tournament is over.
Brazil's star-studded side never looked like breaking down a French side that
remained solid throughout and will be favourites for the semi-final with a
Portugal side coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari, the man who led Brazil to glory in
Brazil had the better of the opening 10 minutes and Ronaldinho won a free-kick
when he was bundled over by William Gallas on the edge of the area but Juninho
Pernambucano's free-kick struck the wall and was deflected over.
Brazil created their best chance when Ronaldo headed over a free-kick from
Ronaldinho after 11 minutes but after that early spell it was mainly France for
the remainder of the match.
A couple of blocked shots from Henry showed the French were in business and
next Franck Ribery fired over after a Zidane corner was headed out to him.
Ronaldinho, in a more advanced role because of Parreira's decision to omit
Adriano from the starting line-up, almost played in Ronaldo but the man who has
scored more World Cup goals - 15 - than any other player was beaten to the ball
by Fabien Barthez.
Cafu was booked for pulling the shirt of Eric Abidal after losing possession
and minutes later Zidane curled an ambitious free-kick over from 35 yards as
France continued to get better.
Some magic from Zidane put Patrick Vieira through the middle and he was halted
by a challenge by Juan who was lucky to escape with just a caution from Spanish
referee Luis Medina Cantalejo, although it would still have been enough to rule
him out of any semi-final with Portugal.
Henry's free-kick struck Ronaldo in the wall and the Brazil striker too earned
a yellow card although he had appeared to be trying to protect himself. It gave
France an even better chance but Zidane drove the ball into the wall with Lucio
making the block.
To the relief of the Brazilians the half-time whistle sounded but at the start
of the second half France were still in the ascendancy with Vieira heading a
Zidane free-kick wide.
Next Henry put the ball in the goal although Medina Cantelejo had already
whistled for offside against Vieira.
The goal that rewarded France's dominance came after 57 minutes when Zidane
floated in a free-kick from out on the left and an unmarked Henry stole in at
the far post to volley the ball into the roof of the net.
France almost made it 2-0 when Ribery drilled the ball across the goal and
Juan, in an attempt to clear, almost scored an own goal.
Henry also almost set up Ribery but his shot was blocked by the onrushing
Lucio was then booked for a crude foul on Henry with Brazil, even after the
introduction of Adriano, looking out of ideas and then Cicinho came on for Cafu
and Robinho for Kaka.
Robinho fired over from a half-chance and Ronaldo screwed a 20-yard shot
Next Lucio volleyed over after a weak Barthez punch but Brazil were looking a
beaten side. Ronaldo won a free-kick with what looked a dive that earned Lilian
Thuram a booking but Ronaldinho's free-kick was just over.
Substitute Louis Saha, released by Zidane, forced a save from Zidane and
Barthez beat away a Ronaldo shot.
The final whistle signalled a deserved French victory and further delayed the
retirement of Zidane, who must now be dreaming of a golden farewell.