Denmark: Francs for the memories
By Simon Fudge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Roger Lemerre's side needed a two-goal victory to go through to the knockout stages but goals by PSV Eindhoven's Dennis Rommedahl in the first half and second half strike by John Dahl Tomasson, with his fourth goal of the tournament, gave the Danes top spot in Group A.
African side Senegal held on for a 3-3 draw against Uruguay in Suwon, after leading 3-0 at the half-time break, and finish second in the group as they follow their Scandinavian counter parts to the second round.
Morten Olsen's side avenged the 3-0 defeat to the French at Euro 2000, with the winner of this clash in a major tournament having gone on to win the title on three previous occasions.
France could never break the Danes' midfield and back-line down, even with inspirational Zinedine Zidane in the starting line-up.
The early stages saw France trying to push forward, knowing that a two-goal victory was what was needed to see the knockout stages.
Zinedine Zidane, making his finals debut after being injured for the first two group matches, was the centre of France's attacking ideas as he orchestrated the possession going forward.
However, Denmark's midfield trio of Christian Poulsen, Stig Tofting, and Thomas Gravesen were getting in their tackles, as France allowed themselves to be caught in possession too many times in the opening half.
In fact, it took eighteen minutes to see the first real chance of the match, as Sylvain Wiltord and David Trezeguet broke free.
The Juventus striker rounded his marker inside Denmark's penalty box but with Wiltord unmarked in the middle, Trezeguet opted to shoot, allowing Denmark goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen to make a comfortable save.
Zidane's, hindered by his heavily strapped thigh, showed a glimpse of his sublime quality when he latched onto a brilliant through ball from Patrick Vieira, but stumbled as he controlled and could not prevent the ball rolling out for a goal-kick.
With France only able to create half-chances to this point, Denmark knew that a goal would put a nail in the coffin of France's qualification hopes.
After a Tofting throw-in was not properly cleared. the ball came back out to the Bolton Wanderers man, who clipped a neat cross to the far post.
There lurked an unmarked Rommedahl, who superbly half-volleyed past French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez to give the Danes a shock 1-0 lead.
France were in real trouble now and Christophe Dugarry tried to inspire his side with a run through midfield before crossing to Trezeguet at the far post, but his header was easily saved by Sorensen.
Denmark looked in even more control than before the opening goal, as their possession and passing was levelling the amount of play the French had during the first half.
France hinted at the class that has come to be attributed to Les Bleus, and Zidane nearly produced one of the tournament's best goals, with a curling effort from the top of Denmark's box, that beat Sorensen but not the far post.
Trezeguet and Wiltord tried in vain to find an equaliser before half-time, with the Arsenal striker forcing an easy diving save from Sunderland's Sorensen.
But the teams went into the break, with Denmark looking in control and France on the brink of elimination.
The second half saw France attack with more conviction, as the World Cup holders needing three goals to avoid a humiliating early exit.
Six minutes in, Marcel Desailly almost levelled things after a Zidane corner found the Chelsea centre-half, but his fine header smacked the bar and bounced away to safety.
The French tried to keep the pressure up but the final ball was letting them down and Denmark replied with Tomasson just being caught off-side from a through ball forward.
Substitute Jesper Gronkjaer then shot over Barthez's bar a minute later, as the Danes started to look for a second goal that would seal their berth in round two.
And that moment would come, after the Danes withstood more French pressure, with Lemerre introducing Auxerre striker Djibril Cisse for Dugarry early in the half.
A ball down the left flank found Chelsea's Gronkjaer, who played in a low cross into the box and with France's back-line caught out, an unmarked Tomasson side-footed his strike past Barthez.
This all but sealed the result halfway through the second half, as French heads dropped, and the belief disappeared from the reigning champions.
In fact, Morten Olsen's side nearly went 3-0 ahead but Rommedahl's header from a Gronkjaer cross was saved by Barthez.
To their credit, the French continued to push forward and substitute Cisse looked to be the player that might finally carve open the Danes.
After a ball forward, Cisse had a volleyed effort at goal stopped by Sorensen, but with the Sunderland custodian falling back into his goal, he spilled and was grateful that his alert defence reacted more swiftly and cleared.
France then saw their best chance to score go begging, when, following an initial stop by Sorensen from a Wiltord strike, Trezeguet saw his resultant effort agonisingly hit the woodwork and bounce out to safety.
France's last good chance to score would fall to Zidane with twelve minutes to go, after his side won a free-kick in front of the Danes goal.
His set-piece cleared the wall, but also the Danish goal and Sorensen happily watched the ball sail high above him..
Just before the end, Denmark saw substitute Kasper Bogelund go close to scoring with an effort wide from a Tomasson give-and-go pass.
Denmark will take great confidence from an organised performance that took advantage of France's desperation to get their World Cup back on track.
The Danes frustrated Les Bleus and found two well-worked goals at the right times to ensure that they topped the group - and left the sorry reigning world and European champions goal-less and going home on much earlier flight than anticipated.
France: Fabien Barthez 4, Vincent Candela 6, Lilian Thuram 4, Marcel Desailly 5, Bixente Lizarazu 5, Patrick Vieira 5 (Johan Micoud 4), Claude Makelele 5, Sylvain Wiltord 4 (Youri Djorkaeff 4), Zinedine Zidane 6, Christophe Dugarry 5 (Djibril Cisse 7*), David Trezeguet 4
Denmark: Thomas Sorensen 7, Stig Tofting 8 (Brian Steen Nielsen 6), Rene Henriksen 7, Martin Laursen 7, Thomas Helveg 7, Dennis Rommedahl 8, Thomas Gravesen 8, Martin Jorgensen 7 (Jesper Gronkjaer 8), Christian Poulson 9* (Kasper Bogelund 6), Niclas Jensen 7, Jon Dahl Tomasson 8
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