EURO Classics: France 2-1 England

Watch this UEFA EURO 2004 classic in full on UEFA.tv but first refresh your memory of a night that belonged to Zinédine Zidane.

France and England served up a treat in their UEFA EURO 2004 group stage opener, Les Bleus' maestro providing the sting in the tail in Lisbon.

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Context

Great EURO comebacks: Watch five of the best
Great EURO comebacks: Watch five of the best

Both teams had qualified as group winners, with France winning all eight of their games en route to the finals in Portugal. Jacques Santini's side headed into the tournament as holders and among the favourites along with an England side containing almost all of the Three Lions' golden generation.

Key players

  • Zinédine Zidane: Heading into the final stretch of a glorious career by 2004, Zidane still had plenty of magic left to weave. It was nights like this that made him one of the most revered and decorated players of his generation.
  • Fabien Barthez: Made one key save in particular (more of that below) against England to lay the platform for Zidane's late heroics. Barthez was an enigmatic figure who had spent the 2003/04 campaign on loan back at Marseille after a mixed spell at Manchester United.
  • David Beckham: England's captain and poster boy, Beckham had more than his fair share of ups and downs at (and building up to) major international tournaments. Three quarter-finals (2002, 2004, 2006) as skipper, all under Sven-Göran Eriksson, was widely considered a disappointment.

What happened

Highlights: The best goals of EURO 2004
Highlights: The best goals of EURO 2004

Against the run of play, England took the lead on 38 minutes when Frank Lampard met a trademark Beckham free-kick with a header that whizzed past Barthez. That was the first goal France had conceded in 1,078 minutes of football. They could so easily have let in a second on 73 minutes but Barthez kept out Beckham's penalty in what proved a turning point in the game.

Zidane curled in a free-kick one minute into added time to level the scores and then, in the 93rd minute, kept his nerve from the spot after David James had brought down Thierry Henry to earn Les Bleus a remarkable victory.

Watch great France EURO goals
Watch great France EURO goals

Reaction

Zinédine Zidane, France match-winner: "Fabien [Barthez] made the difference and allowed us to stay 1-0 down and gave us the possibility to keep believing in our chances. In the end it's a very positive result."

Jacques Santini, France coach: "In high-level football everything can change quickly; the ball rolled our way tonight."

Sven-Göran Eriksson, England manager: "We played extremely well against the world's best team. We thought we had the game won and we should have won it."

Elsewhere that evening

EURO 2004 final highlights: Greece 1-0 Portugal
EURO 2004 final highlights: Greece 1-0 Portugal

The other Group B fixture ended goalless, Switzerland holding on for a 0-0 draw against Croatia despite being down to ten men for most of the second half following the dismissal of Johann Vogel.

Aftermath

Both teams went on to qualify, France topping the group after drawing 2-2 with Croatia and beating Switzerland 3-1. Wayne Rooney blazed a trail for England, meanwhile, scoring twice in emphatic wins against both teams, but picked up an early injury in the quarter-final against Portugal which his country went on to lose on penalties. France exited at the same stage, losing 1-0 to eventual shock winners Greece.

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