Fitful France advance

France 0 Netherlands 0 After extra time France won 5-4 on penalties

After the Oohs and the Aahs of Anfield's Saturday night shoot-out, Aime Jacquet's French team now have to put their record on the line at Old Trafford. On the evidence of their quarter-final against Guus Hiddink's revived Orangemen, Les Bleus could be in for a tough time at the spiritual home of Eric the unwanted Red.

While not quite as pallid as their change strip, France's subdued performance cried out in need of the inspiration of England's Footballer of the Year might have provided. Their unbeaten run extended to 27 matches, and a place in the Manchester semi-final on Wednesday, thanks in equal measure to their goalkeeper and the Spanish referee.

Bernard Lama's vital block at the Kop end took the Dutch into extra time and his save in the same goalmouth effectively won the penalties decider. Clarence Seedorf, the man denied on both occasions by the veteran French keeper, left the pitch shedding tears that might have been tinged with as much bitterness as sheer disappointment.

A nation's expectation weighed heavily enough on the 20-year-old midfielder's shoulders, the more so considering his leading role in the bickering which has riven the Dutch camp in Euro 96. It was little surprise that his composure crumbled after the pedantic Antonio Lopez Nieto ordered him to reposition the ball as he strode forward to take his kick.

Senor Lopez Nieto made an equally crucial and misguided decision seven minutes from the end of normal time, awarding the Netherlands a free-kick outside the French box after Marcel Desailly clearly handled Seedorf's left-wing cross to Patrick Kluivert inside the area. Hiddink could also reflect with frustration on the free-kick that followed, the deflected Philip Cocu piledriver which hit a post.

"These are important details," Hiddink said, referring to the key moments which swung against his spirited side. "But you can't avoid the reality. We played badly in our qualifying games and we missed good chances to score tonight. The only consolation is that the players showed such a good reaction after the England result."

Hiddink's players also showed that the fancied French are vulnerable. It was not a bad performance by Jacquet's men. Laurent Blanc was a defensive colossus as well as the cool converter of the clinching penalty kick. And Youri Djorkaeff probed with sublime perception at times without ever threatening to rip holes in the Dutch dyke.

France played with their customary composure but lacked the dynamic spark Cantona could have given them. Their blunt attacking edge was evident in the squandering of their best chance, when Zinedine Zidane and Djorkaeff contrived to pass up the sitter Winston Bogarde gave them after 14 minutes of extra time.

The absence of Christophe Dugarry, who injured a knee while promising to fire up the French attack during his 17-minute second-half cameo, will not help Jacquet in the Old Trafford semi. Neither will the suspension of Christian Karembeu.

The French coach, however, insists he will enter the theatre of dreams untroubled by the prospect of nightmares. "We had to struggle against Holland," he said, "but in the knockout stages teams are going to dominate you for periods and make you suffer at times.

"We will go to the semi-final in the spirit with which we came into the tournament. We will be without Karembeu and probably also Dugarry but we have replacements who can bring dynamism and style to the French team."

One name springs immediately to mind - and Old Trafford regulars will doubtless make sure their absent friend will not be forgotten on Wednesday.

NETHERLANDS (4-3-2-1): Van der Sar (Ajax); Reiziger (Ajax), Blind (Ajax), De Kock (Roda JC Kerkrade), Bogarde (Ajax); R de Boer (Ajax), Bergkamp (Arsenal), Witschge (Ajax); Cruyff (Barcelona), Cocu (PSV Eindhoven); Kluivert (Ajax). Substitutes: Seedorf (Sampdoria) for Bergkamp, 59; Winter (Internazionale) for Cruyff, 68; Mulder (Schalke 04) for Witschge, 79.

FRANCE (4-3-2-1): Lama (Paris St-Germain); Thurman (Parma), Blanc (Barcelona), Desailly (Milan), Lizarazu (Bordeaux); Karembeu (Sampdoria), Deschamps (Juventus), Guerin (Paris St-Germain); Zidane (Bordeaux), Djorkaeff (Interazionale); Loko (Paris St-Germain). Substitutes: Dugarry (Milan) for Loko, 61; Pedros (Nantes) for Dugarry, 79.

Referee: A Lopez Nieto (Spain).

Booked: Netherlands: De Kock, Kluivert, Bogarde. France: Deschamps, Karembeu.

Man of the match: Blanc. Attendance: 37,465

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Communications Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 6-month part-time contract (24 hours a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Broker

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Vehicle Broker is req...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Data Capture / Telesales

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific