World Cup 2006

Knock out stage

Spain 1 - France 3

Spain: Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Pablo, Puyol, Pernía; Xavi (Marcos Senna 72'), Xabi Alonso, Cesc; Raúl (Luis García 54'); Fernando Torres, David Villa (Joaquín 54'). 4-3-1-2.
France: Barthez; Sagnol, Thuram, Gallas, Abidal; Makelele, Vieira; Ribery, Zidane, Malouda (Govou 74'); Henry (Wiltord 88'). 4-2-3-1.

1-0. 28. David Villa (penalty). After Pablo pushed over by Thuram in area.
1-1. 41. Ribery. Picked up short pass from Vieira and rounded Casillas to score.
1-2. 83. Vieira. Headed ball in off Sergio Ramos following free kick.
1-3. 92. Zidane. Picked up ball on breakaway and rounded Puyol to score.

All the headlines in Spain said "We are going to send Zidane into retirement". "Sorry Zizou, but this is going to be your last match with France". But in the end the veteran midfielder had the last laugh, producing a great performance and scoring the last goal himself to send Luis Aragonés's side back home earlier than they everybody had expected.

After a promising to the competition, Spain's young side were expected to outplay an opponent who's average age was over 30. And they looked good at the beginning, Pernía curling a free kick just over the bar and Fernando Torres outstripping his marker to turn in a cross which nobody could get on the end of.

Thierry Henry was not going to give up without a fight however, and after testing Casillas with a long shot, the Arsenal striker whipped in a cross which Ribery and Vieira both failed to reach. But with the game just under half an hour old, Pablo fell under a challenge from Thuram, and David Villa drove the resulting penalty in off the post to open the scoring for Spain.

Before the half time break though France were level, Ribery running on to a return pass from Vieira to round Casillas and roll the ball in to the net before Puyol and Pernía could react. It was a psychological blow for the French, and Casillas had to react quickly to hold on to an effort from Malouda as they tried to take advantage soon after the restart.

Aragonés made his usual early changes, Joaquín and Luis García coming on for Raúl and Villa, and García was in action straight away, having a first effort cleared by Sagnol and then heading Pernía's cross just over the bar. And Joaquín also joined in the fun, cutting in from the right wing to shoot in to the side netting.

But France were looking dangerous, Govou firing a shot over the top after Ribery set him up. And with ten minutes to go Henry ran in to the back of Puyol, producing enough theatrics to convince the Italian referee to award him a free kick and book the Barcelona defender. It was to be the turning point, as Xabi Alonso headed away Zidane's kick only as far as Vieira, who's header took a deflection off Sergio Ramos to enter the net.

Coming so close to the end it was a killer blow, and although Spain won themselves two corners in a frantic rearguard action they were unable to get past Bathez and his defence. And with the game already in injury time France launched a counter-attack, the ball being played out to Zidane who had enough energy left to round Puyol and fire a shot inside the near post of his Real Madrid team mate Casillas. Spain were once more on their way home prematurely from a major competition, leaving a nation wondering where and why it had all gone wrong.