France banish the ghost of Bulgaria to reach last eight

Blanc and Loko combine to wreak revenge on Stoichkov's dispirited cohorts; BULGARIA 1 FRANCE 3 Stoichkov (69 min) Blanc (21 min) Penev og (63 min) Half-time: 0-1 Loko (90 min) Attendance at St James' Park: 26,976

France, still burning with indignation at the part Bulgaria played in their failure to reach the World Cup finals of 1994, gained revenge at St James' Park yesterday to ensure they finished top of Group B. The blow proved to be a fatal one for Bulgaria, who were denied a place in the last eight because of Spain's win over Romania 90 miles away at Elland Road.

The day began with any two of three teams capable of reaching the quarter- finals, but Spain prevailed at Leeds to finish with five points. That was one more than the Bulgarians, who will no doubt reflect on the Hristo Stoichkov "goal" that was wrongly disallowed for offside against the Spanish.

Stoichkov was implicated in further controversy after the match, when one of his opponents, Marcel Desailly, accused him of racism. "In the first 20 minutes he made racist comments towards me and other African players in our team," he said. "I do not consider Stoichkov to be a great player any more and I don't take anything from my battle from him. He was saying black this and black that."

Stoichkov replied: "It's normal, if you took a microphone on to the pitch you would find it was happening everywhere."

Departure from the tournament was a harsh outcome for Bulgaria, although they could have no complaints about the result of this match. Stoichkov, apart, their attack looked leaden and clumsy compared to the nimble French.

The Parma striker, almost inevitably, got the Bulgarian goal that would prove a consolation buried by the French strikes from Laurent Blanc, an own goal by Luboslav Penev, and Patrice Loko. In the closing moments, Stoichkov stood on his own on the half-way line, totally uninterested in the proceedings. "We were punished for our mistakes," Dimitar Penev, the Bulgarian coach, said, "but despite this defeat I still feel my team has done well. France have paid us back now."

The French still look back in horror on the November night two and half years ago when the Bulgarians pinched a place in USA 94 with a last-minute goal in Paris. From the lusty singing of "La Marseillaise" beforehand to the crunching foul Desailly inflicted on Stoichkov in the third minute, it was clear they were highly motivated.

This energy was nearly sated as early in the 13th minute, Borislav Mikhailov diving low to his left to tip Youri Djorkaeff's free-kick round the post. It proved to be a temporary reprieve, however, because seven minutes later Djorkaeff floated over a corner from the right that Blanc met emphatically with his head, thumping the ball between Mikhailov and Emil Kremenliev on the line.

Mikhailov also had to be agile to save a chip from Christophe Dugarry after 43 minutes and only just got a boot to the ball when Djorkaeff missed a through ball from Vincent Guerin and almost wrong-footed him. The Bulgarian goalkeeper was stopping everything the French were throwing at him; he could not be expected to halt miscalculations from his own players. When Penev inadvertently flicked the ball backwards from Djorkaeff's corner after 62 minutes, he was stranded two yards off his line.

The Bulgarians looked beaten but, after 68 minutes, they were awarded a free-kick right of centre 25 yards out and, with arrogant ease, Stoichkov took just one step and then curled a left-foot shot past Bernard Lama. It was the first successful free-kick of Euro 96 and his third goal in three matches.

As the Bulgarians sensed hope, however, the Spanish got their winner five minutes from time. The white shirts deflated with despair and in the last minute the French landed the final blow. Christian Karembeu played a pass through a square Bulgarian back line and Loko beat Mikhaiklov on the right of the area before placing the ball past Ivailo Yordanov on the line.

BULGARIA (4-4-2): Mikhailov (Reading); Kremenliev (Olympiakos Piraeus), Ivanov (Rapid Vienna), Hubchev (Hamburg), Tsvetanov (Waldhof Mannheim); Lechkov (Hamburg), Yankov (Bayer Uerdingen), Yordanov (Sporting Lisbon), Balakov (VfB Stuttgart); Stoichkov (Parma), Penev (Atletico Madrid). Substitutes: Borimirov (1860 Munich) for Yankov, 78; Donkov (CSKA Sofia) for Balakov, 81.

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); Dugarry (Milan). Substitutes: Pedros (Nantes) for Zidane, 61; Loko (Paris St-Germain) for Dugarry, 69.

Bookings: Bulgaria: Ivanov, Kremenliev. France: Desailly, Dugarry.

Referee: D Gallagher (England) replaced by P Durkin (England), 27.

Man of the match: Djorkaeff.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there