Thierry Henry and Robert Pires scored a goal each inside the first 25 minutes and Sylvain Wiltord added a third just before half-time as the host nation France narrowly beat Turkey 3-2 last night to reach the final of the Confederations Cup. It was a hugely entertaining match between two of Europe's heavyweights but one that was inevitably overshadowed by the fatal collapse of Cameroon's Marc-Vivian Foé during the other semi-final.
The shock death of Lyon's former Manchester City and West Ham midfielder at the Cameroon-Colombia match came little more than 90 minutes before kick-off in Paris and happened too late for this fixture at the Stade de France to be called off. Instead, a minute's silence was hastily arranged before the two national anthems and a moving tribute to Foé read out by the stadium announcer in both French and English.
The French, beaten only once in 13 starts under Jacques Santini, fieldedvirtually a full-strength side, in stark contrast to Turkey, whose line-up featured six of last year's World Cup squad plus five relative newcomers, notably the under-21 player Tuncay, of whom great things are being predicted and who scored a sensational goal just after the break to pull his team back in the game after they trailed 3-1 at half-time.
Turkey's coach, Senol Gunes, has made no secret of having used this tournament to blood young talent and not too much should be read by optimistic England fans into Turkey's defensively naive display. There was enough invention yesterday to remind Sven-Goran Eriksson of what to expect in Istanbul come October. Indeed, they would have taken the game into extra-time had Okun scored with an 87th-minute penalty instead of firing wide.
In the first half, however, they were badly exposed, stung by three French goals that had Arsenal written all over them. Henry put his country on their way with a close-range snapshot after 10 minutes, then Pires took advantage of more chaotic defending. Gokdeniz Karadeniz halved the deficit three minutes before the break, only for Wiltord to restore France's lead in the very next attack after Pires had hit the bar.
By then, Turkey had been forced to replace a limping Rustu with Omer Catkic in goal and Tuncay's sweet strike was not quite enough to force extra-time.
France: Coupet; Thuram, Gallas, Desailly, Silvestre; Dacourt, Pedretti, Wiltord (Giuly, 78), Pires (Kapo, 70); Govou (Cisse, 66), Henry.
Turkey: Rustu (Omer, 36); Uzulmez, Bulent, Fatih, Alpay; Ergun, Gokdeniz, Sahin (Volkan, 84), Basturk (Necati Ates, 81); Okan, Tuncay.
Referee: J Larrionda (Uruguay)Reuse content