A Zinédine Zidane penalty three minutes from the end of extra time gave France a golden goal victory over Portugal in Brussels after Abel Xavier was adjudged to have handled a Sylvain Wiltord shot.
Following a fractious opening Portugal broke the deadlock with their first shot on goal on 19 minutes, the off-balance Nuno Gomes steering past Fabien Barthez from 20 metres. France rose to the challenge, finally fashioning an equaliser through Thierry Henry after the restart. Still, had Xavier's added-time header been further away from Barthez it would have been Portugal, not Les Bleus meeting either Italy or the Netherlands on 2 July. Zidane ensured otherwise with the shoot-out looming.
With both teams showing changes from the sides that won their quarter-final encounters, the match took time to settle. Portugal welcomed back Xavier at right-back with Sérgio Conceiçao moving to his more customary right midfield role at the expense of João Pinto, while Vidigal was preferred to Paulo Bento. For France, Emmanuel Petit's availability following injury caused changes in midfield, with coach Roger Lemerre adopting a 4-4-2 lineup. Henry joined Nicolas Anelka in attack.
As the initial period of tactical cat and mouse ended, the first clear chance fell to France captain Didier Deschamps, winning his 100th cap, but his shot was directed straight at goalkeeper Vítor Baía. France continued to press, with Xavier clearing Zidane's free-kick, before an unlikely breakthrough at the other end when Nuno Gomes pounced after Conceiçao's ball had ricocheted off a couple of players.
The response was initially muted, though gradually Henry, Laurent Blanc and Anelka all asked questions of Baía – if not particularly taxing ones. At the other end, the sting from Luís Figo's shot was absorbed by the retreating Marcel Desailly as the game belatedly found some attacking momentum. Six minutes after the restart it unearthed another goal, too, as Anelka received Lilian Thuram's pass and found Henry close to the penalty spot. The Arsenal FC striker turned and shot low into the net.
France assumed a tighter grip as the second half wore on, and Portugal lived dangerously when Anelka dived too early to meet Zidane's cross. Humberto Coelho's men hit back as both sides gamely tried to find a winner in the final minutes, and Xavier's last-gasp header was tipped over by Barthez. The teams ended normal time with the same score as their semi-final clash in 1984 – 16 years earlier, of course, France went on to win 3-2 but golden goals meant there would be no repeat.
France upped the ante, with Zidane, Henry and Blanc all knocking at the door. Portugal battened down the hatches, and even managed to show their own attacking menace when João Pinto fired narrowly wide. Then came the decisive penalty, and Nuno Gomes was making his way to the dressing room after his protestations brought a red card when Zidane converted.