Joy Sports Euro moment: Portugal’s Euro 2000 semifinal exit by France

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first_imgWELCOME to the continuing ”ª#‎JoySports”¬ buildup ahead of UEFA EURO 2016, which kicks off on June 10 in France. The series started on May 10, and lasts until kickoff. Get ready for blasts from past Euro tournaments! Our coverage is brought to you by Pepsi.Most nations are okay with one very good player  per generation, but France can be said to have been very lucky. After the brilliance of Michel Platini, another superstar came not long after. His name was Zinedine Zidane.He was in his conquering best in the late ’90s and early noughties, and during Euro 2000, “Zizou” was at his influential peak. Les Bleus made sure their star shone bright at the tournament co-hosted by the Belgium and the Netherlands.Having won the World Cup on their own turf two years previously, the French came into this tournament with a single aim: to set a football precedent by adding the Henri Delaunay Trophy to their global crown. They did not disappoint.Meanwhile, one of the biggest surprises of the tournament was Portugal, who topped Group A with three wins – including victories against both England (3-2) and Germany (3-0).  And then in the knockout round, and led by Luis Figo, two Nuno Gomes goals ensured Portugal finished off Turkey. Next up? France in the semi. With both teams showing changes from the sides that won their quarter-final encounters, it was bound to be cagey. Portugal welcomed back Abel Xavier at right-back with Sergio Conceicao moving to his more customary right midfield role at the expense of Joao Pinto, while Vidigal was preferred to Paulo Bento. For France, Emmanuel Petit’s availability following injury caused changes in midfield, with coach Roger Lemerre adopting a 4-4-2 lineup. Henry joined Nicolas Anelka in attack.One flamboyant man was Xavier, who sported a peroxide blonde hair and beard. The only man to play for both sides in the Merseyside derby in the same season and the current manager of Mozambique, Xavier had joined Everton from PSV in 1999, but it was in the Low Countries that he really made a name for himself. He was an integral part of the back four of the Portugal side who beat England, Germany and Romania to top their group, too.So the game started, with much expectation of beautiful, exciting football, in a tournament widely acclaimed as one of the most colourful the world has ever seen.Nuno Gomes had given the Portugese a 1-0 lead against the world champions before Thierry Henry levelled things early in the second half, and with neither side able to edge in front, Xavier nearly stealing it with a 90th minute header, the game in Brussels went to extra time – with the dark spectre of the now defunct golden goal looming over both teams.Through it all, Zizou – even by his stupendous standards – was in unbelievable form. Flicks. Tricks. None wasted, all productive. With just three minutes to go David Trezeguet had a chance smothered by Portugal goalkeeper Vitor Baia, and Sylvain Wiltord followed up only to see his effort blocked by Xavier’s hand at the near post.Referee Gunter Benko awarded a penalty under the orders of linesman Igor Sramka, and Portugal lost the plot.It took three minutes before the Portugese could be calmed down and Zinedine Zidane could take his penalty, during which time Luis Figo had taken his top off in protest before returning to watch Zidane send France through to the final.But Portugal’s protestations didn’t stop there, with Nuno Gomes being sent off and Paulo Bento having to be restrained as he attempted to get to Sramka. Even the legendary Eusebio could be seen trying in vain to calm down his enraged compatriots. And at the heart of it all was Xavier who hardly looked the most inconspicuous of characters as he berated the officials. He was handed a nine month ban from football for his troubles, which was eventually reduced to six.VIDEO—Did you know?France, who had to negotiate a group containing only previous winners, remain the only FIFA World Cup holders to win the UEFA European Championship.  *RELATED:When Germany broke English hearts at Euro 1996When Denmark stunned the world to win Euro 1992The #JoySports Euro buildup series is brought you by Pepsi, Still 1 Ghana cedi pε!last_img

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