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Jubiliant French fans party on Paris streets

Written by: Staff

PARIS, July 6 (Reuters) Blaring horns, whistles and cheers resounded around Paris after France reached the World Cup final with a 1-0 win over Portugal.

''We're going to win this World Cup, that's for sure,'' said Yohan Haouzi, a 22-year-old Parisian brandishing a French flag, who was heading for the Champs Elysees, the capital's famous boulevard where thousands of others were already congregating.

Jubiliant fans went wild in front of a large screen television in Marseille, filled with new certainty that their team could beat Italy in Sunday's final in Berlin -- a sentiment shared by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

''It is a team which continues to make us dream. It is a team which is going to go all the way... We are all behind them,'' Villepin told TF1 television yesterday.

As the final whistle blew in Germany, fans watching the match in a central Paris bar started up chants of 'We are in the finals but where are the Portuguese now' and 'Zizou, Zizou', the nickname of Zinedine Zidane, who scored the winning goal.

''Zidane is a monument, he is a genius,'' said Virginie Lehn, a 26-year old who watched the match in a bar near the Louvre where the barmaid was pouring vodka from a bottle straight into customers' mouths.

''Everyone is behind this team -- it doesn't matter if you are white, black or brown,'' she added.

Fireworks and red flares went off in the packed Bastille area, where people were sitting on newspaper kiosks and hanging off lamp posts.

''We are in the finals -- it's crazy. I am very proud of the team, they fought like lions,'' said Inji Massoteau, a 30-year old in a Bastille bar where people jumped onto the table with joy when the match finished.

The feeling was shared up and down France.

''All the French are particularly proud this evening to share with Les Bleus the happiness of this magnificent success,'' President Jacques Chirac, who will attend the finals in Berlin, said in a statement.

And the feelgood factor looks set to last -- at least until Sunday.

''This is great for France, it is wonderful. We have had a crap year -- we didn't get the Olympics and the politics are rubbish but now we are in the finals,'' said Cedric Boucher, an out of work 28-year old.

Reuters DH VP0438

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