Saturday, June 27, 2015

27 June 2006 - France Over Spain, Just Like On The Map

On 27 June 2006, France came back from a one-goal deficit to beat favored Spain 3-1 in the World Cup Round of 16. It was a performance that sent the French on their way to the Final, where they eventually lost to Italy on penalty kicks.

Les Bleus had struggled in the group stage, managing one win (over Togo, 2-0) and two draws (0-0 with Switzerland and 1-1 with South Korea), but finished in their group's second and last advancement spot. Spain, on the contrary, roared through the first round with wins over the Ukraine (4-0), Tunisia (3-1), and Saudi Arabia (0-1) to finish at the top of Group H.

In the Round of 16, it appeared that La Furia Roja were on their way to another win after French defender Lillian Thuram conceded a penalty by knocking Spanish center back Pablo Ibáñez over in the box in the 28th minute. Striker David Villa sent the spot kick to the bottom left corner of the net, just past the outstretched hands of keeper Fabian Barthez, and Spain were up 1-0.

But in the 41st minute, a well-timed Patrick Vieira pass found Franck Ribéry slipping past the Spanish back line. He rounded keeper Iker Casillas and prodded the ball home to draw France level. Vieira then provided the go-ahead goal in the 83rd minute, as Spain were unable to handle a Zinedine Zidane free kick. It bounced to Vieira in the box and he headed it into the net. Spain pushed forward in search of an equalizer, but were exposed on the counter-attack as Zidane added an insurance goal in the 92nd minute.

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