FIFA World Cup holders France served notice of their UEFA EURO 2000 ambitions with a comprehensive victory over Denmark in this Group D opener.
Laurent Blanc set Les Bleus on their way after 16 minutes, but it was a lovely solo effort from Thierry Henry after the hour that brought the crowd in Bruges to their feet. Substitute Sylvain Wiltord put the icing on the cake late on; the 3-0 scoreline did not flatter France.
Denmark started well enough, and almost stunned the world champions inside two minutes when Marcel Desailly's slip allowed Jesper Grønkjaer to race clear. Fabien Barthez rushed out to block and again came to France's rescue when John Dahl Tomasson fed Ebbe Sand in space in the area, getting down to his right to push away Sand's shot.
France settled and should have forged ahead on 14 minutes when Zinédine Zidane astutely played Nicolas Anelka clear. The Real Madrid CF striker rounded Peter Schmeichel, but found the side-netting with the goal beckoning. Anelka was soon racing clear again, and though Schmeichel managed to block his shot, Blanc was on hand to side-foot the loose ball in.
By now it was all France, with Zidane and Youri Djorkaeff pulling the strings. Zidane had Schmeichel scurrying to get across to his effort from the edge of the box, and as the game opened up Henry became prominent. He powered his way through on the left, holding off several challenges before shooting just wide from an acute angle as France ended an entertaining first half with a narrow, well-merited advantage.
Denmark poured forward after the restart, posing plenty of problems. Barthez pushed away Stig Tøfting's cunning free-kick and Tomasson glanced a header narrowly wide, but they looked vulnerable on the counterattack. The livewire Henry and Anelka went close, and on 64 minutes it was 2-0. Zidane's sublime pass sent Henry streaking clear on the left, and the Arsenal FC starlet picked his spot before sliding the ball past Schmeichel.
Denmark coach Bo Johansson rang the changes but his side had no answer to France's class, further underlined when Wiltord converted after Henry and Patrick Vieira had carved open the tiring rearguard with a brilliant one-two. The win could have been greater, with Schmeichel also making terrific saves to deny Wiltord and Zidane.
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