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BBC Sport's Martin Fookes
"France have won everything there is to win in world football now"
 real 14k

Sunday, 10 June, 2001, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Classy France outplay Japan
France's Patrick Vieira
Vieira's winner capped an impressive performance
Japan 0-1 France

France collected another piece of silverware with an accomplished victory over Japan in the Confederations Cup final.

A Patrick Vieira header in the first half proved enough for Roger Lemerre's side to continue their impressive form.

And on this performance, few will doubt that France can go on to retain their World Cup crown in Japan next year.

France started in imperious fashion, with Nicolas Anelka's pace posing a constant threat to the Japanese defence.

  Key moments
28 mins: Patrick Vieira heads home Frank Leboeuf's through ball
32 mins: Shinji Ono's long-range effort goes wide
65 mins: Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi makes excellent double save
85 mins: Marcel Desailly heads wide from 5 yards out

The former Arsenal player beat the co-host's off-side trap in the opening minutes and unselfishly passed across the face of goal.

But none of his team-mates were on hand to put the finishing touch to a move he had started.

The warning signs were there for Japan whose impressive record of not having conceded a goal in the tournament looked set to end.

France's flamboyant attacking play was underpinned by their industry in midfield with Vieira and Robert Pires in outstanding form.

Japan, appearing in their first major final, were not overawed by the occasion - but they simply had no reply to the world champions' superiority.

Japan's Koji Nakata tackles France's Nicolas Anelka
Anelka's pace a constant threat to Japan defence
Shinji Ono, the rising star of Japanese football, entertained the home crowd in place of the missing Hidetoshi Nakata.

And the tenacious midfielder created Japan's best chance of the first half.

But Hiroaki Morishima failed to steer Ono's shot-come-cross on target.

A Marcel Desailly through-ball on 18 minutes gave Christian Karembeu an excellent opportunity to open France's account.

However, the Middlesbrough player waited too long to pass to the impressive Steve Marlet whose shot was blocked off the line.

It was Vieira who gave France the lead 10 minutes later, timing his run into the Japan area to perfection to head home Frank Leboeuf's excellent pass.

Japan offered little in attack before the interval to suggest that they would get back into the game.

Philippe Troussier, who came through France's national coaching academy, must wish he was able to call on the same kind of attacking options at the disposal of his compatriot Lemerre.

Japan's lack of presence up front has seen them struggle against good opposition and so it proved against France.

France's Christian Karembeu and Japan's Shinji Ono
Karembeu: A surprise selection ahead of Willy Sagnol

Their top striker Takayuki Suzuki was missing through suspension after being sent off in the semi-final against Australia.

But if Japan are to mount a decent challenge when they co-host World Cup 2002, finding a quality forward will be a necessity.

France could afford to bring off Youri Djorkaeff and Marlet to give Eric Carriere and Laurent Robert a run-out.

The two youngsters gave France some fresh options and a sharper edge to their attack after they had sat on their first-half lead.

Robert forced an excellent save from Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, who then denied Pires.

The French substitute should have given his side a two-goal cushion.

The selfless Anelka released Robert and was available for the return pass.

But Robert opted to go for glory and blazed his shot over the bar.

The Japanese engaged in a damage limitation exercise towards the latter stages of the match.

And they succeeded in not conceding any more goals en route to defeat as France added yet another title to their growing collection.


Japan: Kawaguchi, Matsuda, Morioka, Inamoto, Morishima, Nishizawa, Ito, Koji Nakata, Toda, Hato, Ono. Subs: Uemura, Hattori, Hidetoshi Nakata, Miura, Narazaki, Yamashita, Fujita, Myojin, Kubo, Tsuzuki.

France: Rame, Lizarazu, Vieira, Djorkaeff, Pires, Desailly, Anelka, Wiltord, Marlet, Leboeuf, Karembeu. Subs: Sagnol, Gillet, Carriere, Coupet, Silvestre, Nee, Brechet, Dacourt, Camara, Robert, Landreau.

Referee: A Bujsaim (United Arab Emirates)

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