Euro Classics: France vs England Euro 2004: Key Moments & Match Analysis
The Euro 2004 that took place in Lisbon, Portugal had a lot of bitter-sweet moments, but there were some games that are forever etched in our hearts, not just because of the outcome but for the sheer moments.
France vs England was one such rendezvous between two rivals on and off the sport. On 12th June 2004, both sides played each other in what was the first game of Group B and two members of the 'Galacticos' were up against one another, Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham.
Right from the moment the teams headed out of the tunnel, everyone knew that the Estadio da Luz is set to host a scintillating meeting to decide who ascertains a step towards European supremacy.
England vs France: Key Moments
The first half of the game was more than enough for the players, who were panting as there was no stopping. The French had seven players belonging to the Premier League, while the English had ten and that meant that the teams were wary of each other's dispositions.
However, the 38th minute of the game glimpsed everyone with magic as David Beckham did what he does best, bend a teasing cross from the right, with Frank Lampard heading in the wide corner as England took the lead.
Then England coach, Sven-Goran Eriksson's approach was not the best as the instructions were to intimidate the Frenchman Zinedine Zidane, attempts of which also led to Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard escaping bookings despite the tackles being completely impious.
The second half witnessed more intent from the French and Jacques Santini did everything possible to maximize Zidane's involvement in the game. Zidane was fearless, took people on, and didn't shy away from any player even after some dreadful tackle attempts on him.
But France lacked the final product and England managed to pave another scoring opportunity for themselves.
England, in an attempt to clear the ball out of danger, handed Wayne Rooney acres of space to run in. Within ten yards of their half, Wayne Rooney tickled the ball over Lilian Thuram's head and initiated an unfazed counter, as he passed three France central defenders as they were stones, only to be smitten by Fabien Barthez.
That goal could've made Wayne Rooney, the 19-year-old, the youngest goalscorer in the European Championship history.
However, the exuberance of the English fans was inversely proportional to the seriousness of the tackle, with England fans and players thinking that the game was in their pocket.
However, Fabien Barthez had different plans as he sprung high and extended to deny Beckham.
The English skipper already had a penalty missed against Turkey in his book, and this became his second miss in a row.
More was added to the misery for the three lions as substitute Emile Heskey brought down Zidane, just 25 yards in front of goal. That's why you don't want your forwards to tackle!
Zidane knew that this was the moment where he had to take command of and what we saw as a result was just magnificent. David James was stunned in front of goal, first time of many as the ball went into the top right corner, and the French flags unveiled as a point was rescued.
Steven Gerrard had one of his forgettable moments when he tried a wobbly backpass which was intercepted by an alert Thierry Henry who pounced on the opportunity.
On the way, David James stood strong but took him down in the process with a mistimed tackle, and France were handed an opportunity to claim the victory.
One galactico's missed chance was grabbed very gracefully by the other as France eventually finished at the apex of Group B, while England ended the Group Stage as runners-up.
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