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Scolari says France deserved semi victory

Written by: Staff

MUNICH, July 5 (Reuters) Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari paid tribute to France after they ended his dreams of a second successive World Cup triumph with a 1-0 semi-final defeat of his team today.

Zinedine Zidane's first-half penalty doomed Scolari, who had guided Brazil to victory in 2002 in South Korea and Japan, to his first World Cup finals defeat in 13 matches.

After the final whistle, Scolari angrily berated the officials on the field for the 33rd-minute penalty decision against Ricardo Carvalho but he later conceded that France had deserved to go through to Sunday's final against Italy.

''It was deserved victory, definitely, for France.

''There are situations that are difficult. We did everything we could, we did our best. Congratulations to France,'' he told reporters.

''We have to accept this. We knew it would be a difficult match and had a few chances but, unfortunately, didn't do it and lost.'' Scolari's future as Portugal coach will now be open to further speculation after he was reported in British and Portuguese media to be on the verge of becoming England boss before the World Cup finals.

''I have a contract until the end of July then we'll see what happens,'' he said.

England have since appointed Steve McClaren as manager but Brazil, who lost in the quarter-finals to France too, are widely expected to have a vacancy as coach shortly.

Eusebio, one of Portugal's footballing greats whose side lost to winners England in the 1966 World Cup semi-finals, paid tribute to Scolari's team.

''The luck factor was not on Portugal's side today,'' he told Portuguese television channel SIC.

''The players deserve to be congratulated. But it is still not over; sadly we are not in the final but we have a game ahead and that game has a price as well which is the bronze.'' Portugal will face hosts Germany, who lost 2-0 to Italy in extra time on Tuesday, in the third-place playoff match on Saturday in Stuttgart.

Reuters DH VP0325

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