Blanc sees off sad Seedorf

France 0 Holland 0 after extra time; France win 5-4 on penalties Attendance: 37,465
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England's Wembley progress may have continued to seem like 1966 revisited yesterday, but there was no echo of 30 years ago on the Euro 96 Merseybeat.

Liverpool's World Cup quarter-final three decades ago was Portugal's Eusebio-inspired recovery from a three-goal deficit, which ended the North Korean fairy tale by a 5-3 margin at Goodison. Across Stanley Park last night, however, France and Holland slugged through a goalless stalemate for 120 minutes.

In the absence of a golden goal, the sudden death of penalties was required and it was a miss that settled the tie. After three perfectly struck kicks by both teams, Clarence Seedorf's effort was saved by Bernard Lama, whose pre-emptive shuffle went unpunished. When Laurent Blanc tucked away the fifth and final French penalty, it was an end to a painful tournament for the Dutch and for the unhappy Seedorf.

Holland's dyke had been so badly damaged by England at Wembley last Tuesday that their coach, Guus Hiddink, required new fingers to plug the holes. In attempting his repairs, however, he was on something of a Hiddink to nothing in dropping Seedorf to the substitutes' bench. It would have been greeted as another slight by the faction of disaffected youngsters in the Dutch squad, still aggrieved by the premature departure of Edgar Davids, though Patrick Kluivert did make his first start of the tournament.

Thus the immediate future seemed more likely to be blue than orange, given Holland's struggle to reach the last eight. Les Bleus, clad in white, accordingly looked the brighter side in the opening 20 minutes.

The first clear chance did not arrive until the 21st minute and it fell to the Dutch. Ronald de Boer could hardly have squandered a more inviting opening, heading wide of a gaping goal after Richard Witschge's right- wing corner had eluded Bernard Lama. But, as half-time approached, the most promising chance was manufactured by France, Patrice Loko turning and shooting narrowly wide from the right edge of the Dutch penalty area.

Holland lost Bergkamp, who limped off 14 minutes into the second half to make way for Seedorf. They were within an inch of losing a goal, too, when Zinedine Zidane just missed with a free-kick from 25 yards.

Christophe Dugarry came on for Loko and his attacking industry gave Aime Jacquet's side a more threatening look. But the game swung Holland's way after Milan's new striker pulled up with a knee ligament injury that will keep him out of the rest of the tournament, and they could well have secured a semi-final place inside 90 minutes had the Spanish referee, Antonio Lopez Nieto, not awarded a free-kick outside the French box after Marcel Desailly handled inside it with seven minutes left.

Even then, Philip Cocu's deflected free-kick hit a post and Lama was obliged to come to France's rescue by blocking a Seedorf shot after 88 minutes.

France (4-3-2-1): Lama (Paris St-Germain); Thuram (Parma), Blanc (Barcelona), Desailly (Milan), Lizarazu (Bordeaux); Karembeu (Sampdoria), Deschamps (Juventus), Guerin (Paris St-Germain); Zidane (Bordeaux), Djorkaeff (Internazionale); Loko (Paris St-Germain). Substitutes: Dugarry (Milan) for Loko, 62; Pedros (Nantes) for Dugarry, 80.

Holland (3-1-4-1-1): Van der Sar ; Reiziger (both Ajax), De Kock (Roda JC Kerkrade), Bogarde; Blind (both Ajax); Cruyff (Barcelona), R de Boer, Witschge (both Ajax), Cocu (PSV Eindhoven); Bergkamp (Arsenal); Kluivert (Ajax). Substitutes: Seedorf (Sampdoria) for Bergkamp, 60; Winter (Internazionale) for Cruyff, 69; Mulder (Schalke 04) for Witschge, 80.

Referee: A Lopez Nieto (Spain).

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