France earned a quarter final tie against Greece following their 3-1 win over Switzerland in Coimbra.
Thierry Henry, who has been criticised in some quarters for his disappointing campaign to date, opened his Euro 2004, scoring twice against the Swiss, for whom Johann Vonlanthen became the youngest scorer in the tournament’s history. Zinedine Zidane was France’s other scorer to take his total to three in the tournament.
France enjoyed the early play and were it not for an uncharacteristic sliced shot from Zidane, could have taken the lead within the opening ten minutes.
However, the French skipper made amends when he rose unchallenged at a corner on 20 minutes to give Jacques Santini’s team a well-deserved lead.
However, the lead wasn’t to last long as the Swiss built a neat move culminating Vonlathe’s tidy finish. Vonlathen at 18, became the youngest ever scorer at the competition, beating the record set by Rooney against Switzerland last week.
The Swiss, held on until half-time and their were signs of nerves creeping into the French play. Henry, Zidane, Trezeguet and Pires all missed good chances as France struggled to finish off their stubborn opponents.
Aware that the needed a win to top the group and therefore face Greece in the next round, Santini introduced Louis Saha for the ineffective Trezeguet.
The switch brought immediate dividend when Saha’s first touch was to head the ball into the path of Henry, who finished with his left foot.
the Arsenal striker added a third six minutes later, cutting inside from his favoured left wing position before sliding the ball past Stiel.
For the third successive match this was not an entirely convincing performance by the holders. However, with what looks a relatively easy match in the quarter finals they remain the team to watch.
Moreover, Thierry Henry is beginning to resemble the striker who terrorised Premiership defences for the last two years. If he maintains this form, then who would bet against France retaining the trophy.
Switzerland 1-3 France
-Switzerland: Johann Vonlanthen 26
-France: Zinedine Zidane 20, Thierry Henry 76, 84
Switzerland:1-Joerg Stiel; 4-Stephane Henchoz (14-Ludovic Magnin 86), 20-Patrick Mueller, 5-Murat Yakin, 17-Christoph Spycher; 8-Raphael Wicky, 7-Ricardo Cabanas, 6-Johann Vogel; 10-Hakan Yakin (18-Benjamin Huggel 60), 15-Daniel Gygax (21-Milaim Rama 86); 22-Johann Vonlanthen
France: 16-Fabien Barthez; 19-Willy Sagnol (5-William Gallas 46, 2-Jean-Alain Boumsong 90+2), 15-Lilian Thuram, 13-Mikael Silvestre, 3-Bixente Lizarazu; 4-Patrick Vieira, 6-Claude Makelele, 7-Robert Pires, 10-Zinedine Zidane; 12-Thierry Henry, 20-David Trezeguet (9-Louis Saha 75)
Referee: Referee: Referee: Lubos Michel (Slovakia)