Wed, Jun 23, 2004 - Page 20 News List

France, England reach quarterfinals

EURO 2004 France eased past Switzerland 3-1, while Wayne Rooney scored two goals to lead England over Croatia 4-2 in Group B play


England's Wayne Rooney, center, is challenged by Croatians Igor Tudor, left, and Niko Kovac during their Euro 2004 Group B match at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon, Portugal, Monday. England defeated Croatia 4-2 with two goals by Rooney, advancing to the quarterfinals.


Defending champion France and England made the quarterfinals of Euro 2004 on Monday, and even two-goal Thierry Henry was overshadowed by 18-year-old English sensation Wayne Rooney.

France got there as Henry notched his first goals of the tournament to lead France over Switzerland 3-1.

In the other Group B match, Rooney got two more goals -- the teenager now leads the tournament with four -- as England overpowered Croatia 4-2. France topped the group with seven points and England finished second with six.

France goes up against Greece on Friday in one quarterfinal, and England opens the quarterfinals on Thursday against host Portugal. The Czech Republic is the only other team to reach the quarterfinals.

The three remaining quarterfinal spots will be decided on Tuesday and Wednesday with Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Latvia and the Netherlands still in the chase.

Stocky, powerful and emblematic of England's "bulldog" image, Rooney was England's star again. He scored in first-half injury time to give England's its first lead at 2-1, and again in the 68th with the clinching goal to make it 3-1.

"The team's done very well today and luckily enough I got two goals," said Rooney, who scored his first English Premier League goal for Everton at only 16.

"It was just going out there and trying to do our job the best we could."

England captain David Beckham can hardly believe his composure.

"When you see him [Rooney] perform, you know nothing fazes him," David Beckham said. "Again tonight -- he produced again tonight. He deserves all the praise that he is going to get."

Croatia's Niko Kovac stunned England after only five minutes, but Paul Scholes equalized in the 40th, his first international goal in three years.

With England leading 3-1, Igor Tudor cut it to 3-2 in the 73rd before England's Frank Lampard made it 4-2 six minutes later.

Asked about Rooney, who is being compared by the English press to the young Pele at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson seemed lost for words.

"I don't know what to say, he's fantastic," the Swede said. "And not only scoring goals. He's seems to be a complete football player."

France, needing just a draw to reach the quarterfinals, got a victory instead on two late goals from Arsenal striker Henry.

Zinedine Zidane gave France the lead on a 20th-minute header, before 18-year-old Johann Vonlanthen equalized for the Swiss in the 26th to become the youngest scorer in European championship history.

Rooney broke that record with his two goals on Thursday in a 3-0 win over Switzerland, only to see it fall four days later.

Henry settled the match with a 76th-minute tap-in after being set up by substitute Louis Saha, then added his second on a solo run and finish in the 84th.

Croatia finished third in the group with two points and Switzerland had only one.

``It's not a relief but we had to go for this victory. These three games weren't easy, said French coach Jacques Santini, whose team rallied with two goals in injury time by Zidane to defeat England 2-1 in their opening match.

"Our objective is to reach the final. We had prepared for this game as if it were a knockout match."

Henry has scored 27 goals in 61 games, ending a goal drought for the striker who had not scored in his last five games for Les Bleus. By contrast, he scored 30 in Premier League games last season for Arsenal.

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