France slumps out of World Cup

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> France crashes out of the World Cup after a 2-0 loss to Denmark, becoming the first defending champion to be eliminated in round one since Brazil in 1966.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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Incheon, South Korea:

France crashed out of the World Cup after a 2-0 loss to Denmark today, becoming the first defending champion to be eliminated in the first round since Brazil in 1966. PSV Eindhoven forward Dennis Rommedahl scored in the 22nd minute and AC Milan recruit Jon Dahl Tomasson netted his fourth goal in three games to ensure Denmark reached the second round for the second consecutive World Cup. France, needing to win with a two-goal margin to advance, couldn't manage its first win of the tournament despite the return of star midfielder Zinedine Zidane. Zidane was sidelined with a thigh injury when the French were stunned in a 1-0 upset by Senegal in the tournament opener and were then held to a 0-0 tie by Uruguay. The star midfielder, who scored the first two goals in France's 3-0 win over Brazil in the final at Stade de France four years ago, couldn't inspire the struggling French to score a goal. French skipper Marcel Desailly hit the woodwork with a powerful header in the 51st minute and Zidane drove a shot into a defender three minutes later as the French launched raid after raid on the Denmark goal. Zidane raised a huge roar from the crowd at Munhak Stadium when he stepped up to take a free kick in the 78th minute, but he skewed his shot from 25 metres wide of the mark. Danish goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen came up with two brilliant diving saves to stop the equalizer before halftime and he tipped Sylvain Wiltord's strike over the crossbar in the 62nd minute; the French forward was anyway called back for offside. The Danes, who opened with a 2-1 win over Uruguay and then were held to a 1-1 tie with Senegal, started the match without striker Ebbe Sand and veteran defender Jan Heintze, the captain for the last two matches. Denmark got the go-ahead goal when midfielder Stig Toefting floated a cross over from the left side for Rommedahl, who got his right boot to a half volley and drove the ball wide of Fabien Barthez' left, outstretched hand. Tomasson took a pinpoint cross from Jesper Gronkjaer on a Danish counter-attack in the 67th minute and drilled a right-foot strike under Barthez to put the result beyond doubt. Zidane walked off the field with his head hanging down, followed by the rest of the French team. Thousands of traveling "Les Bleus'' fans fell silent and mournfully waved the French tricolor. Danish fans in the opposite corner of the stadium beat on drums and sang "Ole, Ole, Ole". Lineups:Senegal: 1-Tony Sylva; 17-Ferdinand Coly (21-Habib Beye 63), 2-Omar Daf, 5-Alassane Ndour (12-Amdy Faye, 6-Aliou Cisse (C), 13-Lamine Diatta, 4-Papa Malick Diop; 10-Khalilou Fadiga, 19-Papa Bouba Diop; 7-Henri Kamara (14-Moussa Ndiaye 67), 11-El-Hadji Diouf Uruguay: 1-Fabian Carini, 14-Gonzalo Sorondo (17-Mario Regueiro 31), 4-Paolo Montero (C), 3-Alejandro Lembo, 16-Marcelo Romero (21-Diego Forlan 46), 8-Gustavo Varela, 5-Pablo Garcia, 6-Dario Rodriguez, 20-Alvaro Recoba, 13-Sebastian Abreu (18-Richard Morales 46), 9-Dario Silva Referee: Jan Wegereef, Netherlands

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