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Emmanuel Petit
"It's a pleasure to play with our great strikers"
 real 28k

Sunday, 11 June, 2000, 19:26 GMT 20:26 UK
Henry humbles Danes
Laurent Blanc
Laurent Blanc celebrates his goal with Henry and Zidane
France 3-0 Denmark
(Bruges - Att: 29,000)

Goals from Laurent Blanc and Thierry Henry either side of half-time and a late strike from Sylvain Wiltord, gave France the perfect start to Euro 2000 in the opening game of Group D.

Veteran defender Blanc grabbed a crucial early goal with 16 minutes of the game played after good work from Nicolas Anelka before Henry put the game beyond Denmark's reach with a sensational solo effort.

Wiltord then made sure of the victory when he slotted home Patrick Vieira's pass from the right, although the forward looked to be in an off-side position when he received the ball.

It had been a compelling start to the tournament by the Danes, and with just two minutes on the clock, John Dahl Tomasson latched onto an Ebbe Sand flick, and raced clear of the French defence with only Fabien Barthez to beat.


Anelka
Nicolas Anelka: Set up Blanc goal
However, the burly Barthez spread himself well and saved with his legs to give the French an early boost.

The World Champions looked nervous in the opening exchanges, and captain Didier Deschamps was forced to bail out his back line four minutes later after Barthez collided with Blanc.

Miss

Anelka then missed a glaring opportunity with eleven minutes played as he beat the Danish off-side trap, dribbled the ball around Peter Schmeichel, before firing wide at an open goal.


Key moments
3 mins: Tomasson wastes clear chance by shooting straight at Barthez
11: Anelka runs clear, goes round Schmeichel but fires into side netting
16: Anelka is blocked by Schemichel but feeds Blanc to tap into empty net
64: Zidane sends Henry scampering clear to score
90: Wiltord looks offside but is allowed to slot home Vieira's pass
However, when France finally did find their touch in front of goal, it came from the unlikely figure of centre-half Blanc.

The lively Anelka linked up with Henry before having the ball pushed away from his feet by Schmeichel.

The ball ran loose in the area to the experienced Blanc, who calmly stroked the ball into the open net to give the send the French fans wild.

The goal was harsh on the hard working Danes, who were full of purpose and enterprise in midfield, but seemed to lack that cutting edge.

Zidane, who was beginning to assert a stranglehold on the bear-pit of a midfield, then made space for himself on the edge of the area before sending a rasping drive inches over the Danish bar.

Run

With 39 minutes played, Henry accelerated down the right with a penetrating run into the Danish penalty area and after shrugging off two defenders he shot from a narrow angle into the side netting.

As the second half got underway, there was a more composed look about the French and they seemed more than happy to soak up ten minutes of almost constant Danish pressure.


Henry
Thierry Henry: Second half strike
On a rare burst Anelka nearly notched the second headed goal of his career from Henry's ball from the left.

But Denmark were nearly handed a lifeline on 53 minutes when Barthez spilt a Stig Tofting free kick and ball bounced dangerously in the area but somehow, the French manage to scramble it clear.

Pressure

However, France responded to the pressure in breathtaking fashion with a breakaway goal from Arsenal striker Henry, midway through the second half.

A clipped pass from Zidane sent the lightening quick forward on his way and Henry picked his spot before slotting the ball past the helpless Schmeichel.

Henry's goal appeared to dampen the Danish spirits and with France happy to keep possession and sit on their two-goal cushion, the game appeared to be fading into oblivion.

However, deep into stoppage time, France hammered one final nail into the Danish coffin when Wiltord fired home after good work from Vieira.


France: Barthez, Thuram, Blanc, Desailly, Bixente, Lizarazu, Deschamps (capt), Petit, Djorkaeff, Zidane, Henry, Anelka.

Denmark Schmeichel (capt), Helveg, Henriksen, Schjoenberg, Heintze, Gronkjaer, Tofting, Nielsen, Gravesen, Tomasson, Sand.

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France
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See also:

11 Jun 00 | Photo Gallery
France v Denmark in pictures
11 Jun 00 | France
Vieira ponders Arsenal exit
10 Jun 00 | France
Blanc seeks fond farewell
14 May 00 | Squad
Laurent Blanc
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