Zidane aims for final after 'beautiful performance'

July 1, 2006

FRANKFURT, July 1 (Reuters) - French playmaker Zinedine Zidane said France produced a great performance when it was needed to knock holders Brazil out of the World Cup on Saturday.

Raymond Domenech
GettyImages / JanPitmanRaymond Domenech (l) celebrates with a member of his coaching staff as France went through

'We needed a great match and we delivered. We knew we would have to be fit physically and we were,' he told reporters after the 1-0 win.

'We fought closely together for a well-deserved victory. Now we'll try to win a place in the final. We don't want to stop now. This is so beautiful, we want it to carry on,' added Zidane, who will retire from soccer after the World Cup.

Goalscorer Thierry Henry said the win was deserved.

'We played well. We didn't steal anything from anybody. We had a tactical plan and it worked perfectly,' he said.

'We wanted to prove after what happened in 2002 that we were not rubbish,' he added, referring to France's early exit four years ago.

France coach Raymond Domenech again praised his team and reiterated what has been his mantra throughout the tournament - that only victory in the final on July 9 will satisfy him.

'To play Brazil you have to know how to defend because they know how to attack,' said Domenech. 'We had to stake out the field and play, stay strong and battle.

'If we didn't do that we would die peacefully. They made us suffer a bit at the end when they had some chances so I would not say we dominated the match - but I would say that we controlled it in the terms of how to play a match against Brazil.

'Our objective remains the final on July 9 but first we have a tough match with Portugal.

'We can only really say we have succeeded if we win on July 9 so none of us are saying `cockadoodle-doo'. But we are still in the tournament and that's a good thing.

'Maybe we started the tournament slowly but the teams who were playing well at the start of the tournament are now watching it on TV.'