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Germany looks forward to Italy v France final

Written by: Staff
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BERLIN, July 6 (Reuters) Germany digested the disappointment at missing out on its World Cup dream and began to look forward to what could be a classic final between Italy and France on Sunday.

The French joined Germany's conquerors Italy in the Berlin final with a 1-0 victory over Portugal in Munich yesterday and set up the perfect finale for Zinedine Zidane's glittering career.

Zidane, who scored twice in France's 3-0 win over Brazil in the 1998 final in Paris, will play his last competitive game in Berlin's Olympiastadion before retiring. He had already played his last game for his club Real Madrid.

Fittingly, it was his penalty in the 33rd minute which put his French team into the final for the second time.

The match was not the classic encounter that had seen Germany's demise the previous night in Dortmund when Italy grabbed two goals late in extra time to capture a deserved 2-0 win and plunge the host nation into despair.

Germany will meet Portugal in Stuttgart on Saturday in the third place playoff, a match which is generally regarded as more of a formality than a full-blooded competitive fixture.

France's win ended a remarkable run by Portugal's coach Luiz Felipe Scolari who won the title with his native Brazil in 2002.

Scolari was within one match of taking a second national team into what would have been his second final in a row as coach. But he was denied by the highly effective French defence for whom Lilian Thuram was the official man of the match.

Central defender Thuram was one of four players in the France team who also played in the 1998 final, along with Zidane, goalkeeper Fabien Barthez and midfielder Patrick Vieira.

Striker Thierry Henry, who played in the 1998 tournament though not in the final, also lined up against the Portuguese side and was responsible for France's goal.

His quick turn in the box took him past Ricardo Carvalho who tripped Henry to prevent a probable goal, leading to Zidane's calmly taken penalty.

REUTERS PDS RN0910

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