France down Italy 3-1

Updated: 25 February 2007 10:36 IST

Sidney Govou scored two goals and Thierry Henry added another on Wednesday to give France a 3-1 win over Italy in a European Championship qualifier.

France down Italy 3-1

Saint-Denis, France:

Sidney Govou scored two goals and Thierry Henry added another on Wednesday to give France a 3-1 win over Italy in a European Championship qualifier.Govou scored in the second minute, and Henry added another in the 17th for his 37th international goal - moving him within four goals of Michel Platini's French record.Govou scored again in the 56th when he headed home Willy Sagnol's cross.Alberto Gilardino scored for Italy in the 20th.Just two months after the teams met in the World Cup final, France had several chances to extend its lead before the interval."The perfect match is where you score on every attack and where you are never in danger," France coach Raymond Domenech said. "I have to admit we weren't far from the perfect match."France has six points from two matches in Group B, behind Scotland on goal difference. Italy has only one point from its two matches."We have beaten two World Cup winners in the last two months," said Domenech, referring to the World Cup quarterfinal win over Brazil. "But what's more important is that we have distanced Italy by five points."Domenech told his players not to get carried away by the win."Let's not think we have already qualified," Domenech said. "We need to stay calm. But if we win in Scotland, then we will be in a strong position in the group."Despite pleas from Domenech, fans began booing when the Italian national anthem started.With the win secured, fans at Stade de France broke out into chants of "Zizou, Zizou" in homage to Zinedine Zidane, who was red-carded in the World Cup final for head-butting Marco Materazzi and retired after the match.With two minutes gone, Henry sent the ball left to William Gallas and his dipping cross was volleyed back the same way and into the corner of the net by Govou - who only started because Louis Saha was not fully fit.Gianluca Zambrotta shot over the bar in the fifth minute as Italy sought a quick reply, but it was a rare attack.Franck Ribery's 12th-minute cross, again from the left, eluded Italy's defenCe, but also his own teammates.Three minutes later, Italy survived again when Henry got into the penalty area and Zambrotta had to scramble his cross away before Florent Malouda could tap it in.Henry ended a seven-game scoreless streak when he curled the ball under Gianluigi Buffon from 12 meters after the goalkeeper had blocked Malouda's powerful shot.With French fans singing, Italy quickly pulled a goal back when Gilardino was left unmarked to head in a free kick from Andrea Pirlo with goalkeeper Gregory Coupet stranded.Gennaro Gattuso avoided a caution when he clattered into the back of France captain Patrick Vieira, and Sagnol then forced Buffon into a save at his left-hand post in the 26th.With the action almost incessant, Coupet clawed the ball off the line, and Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro was cautioned for flattening Ribery as the winger sped past.Italy coach Roberto Donadoni handed a second appearance to Chievo midfielder Franco Semioli, and Andrea Barzagli stepped in for the suspended Materazzi, with Alessandro Nesta still out injured.Stronger in the tackle, France controlled midfield with Claude Makelele in impressive form alongside Vieira.A fine move saw Makelele sweep the ball to Sagnol, and the Bayern Munich defender's curling cross was powerfully headed in by Govou for his fifth goal in 24 games.He almost added a third in the 65th after collecting Henry's pass, but shot wide.Coupet then made a brilliant reaction save to keep out Cannavaro's header, and Gilardino was booked by referee Herbert Fandel for diving. (AP)



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