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Newz Forum: SOCCER: Croatia and France draw 2-2 in Group B

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posted on Jun, 17 2004 @ 03:56 PM
LEIRIA, Portugal (AP) - David Trezeguet took advantage of an error by Croatia goalkeeper Tomislav Butina and scored in the 64th minute Thursday to rally defending champion France to a 2-2 draw with Croatia in Group B.

Trezeguet scored when Butina charged out to the 18-yard line, but on his clearance the ball struck the French forward, who scored into an empty net. The goal ruined a quick, second-half comeback by Croatia, and put English minds at rest. Victory would have given the Croatians the advantage on the standings table heading into Monday's showdown with England.

Trailing 1-0 at halftime on an own-goal given to Croatia's Igor Tudor off Zinedine Zidane's long, bouncing free kick, the Croats scored twice in four minutes early in the second half to take a 2-1 lead.

Croatia's Milan Rapaic scored on a penalty in the 48th minute. Then Dado Prso beat Mikael Silvestre in the area, shifted the ball to his left foot and shot around Marcel Desailly and into the net behind French 'keeper Fabien Barthez to make it 2-1.

In the final minute of second half injury time, Ivica Morna had a chance to scored the decider as he worked his way within six meters of the goal, but shot just over the top of the crossbar.

The match was the most wide-open after six days of 2004.

The draw left France atop Group B with four points followed by England (3), Croatia (2) and Switzerland (1). England defeated Switzerland 3-0 in the day's other group match.

France faces Switzerland on Monday in the final group game and England plays Croatia. Assuming defending champion France defeats Switzerland, England would need only a draw to reach the quarterfinals. Croatia could go to the final eight with a win over England.

France carried much of the play in the first half, but had few chances.

After France took the lead, it maintained most of the possession. In the 43rd minute - on the most spectacular play of the half - Zindane did some showing off with a fancy backheel pass off a corner. It went right to William Gallas, whose header went wide from only five meters.

Robert Kovac tested Barthez late in the half with a long shot that the Frenchman went down to the ground to save. That hinted at what was to come in the second half. Lineups:

France - Fabien Barthez; William Gallas (81, Willy Sagnol), Marcel Desailly, Lilian Thuram, Mikael Silvestre; Sylvain Wiltord (70, Robert Pires), Patrick Vieira, Olivier Dacourt (79, Benoit Pedretti), Zinedine Zidane; David Trezeguet, Thierry Henry.

Croatia - Tomislav Butina; Dario Simic, Robert Kovac, Igor Tudor, Josip Simunic; Nenad Bjelica (68, Jerko Leko), Niko Kovac, Giovanni Rosso, Milan Rapaic (87, Ivica Mornar); Dado Prso, Tomo Sokota (73, Ivica Olic).

Referee - Kim Milton Nilesen (Denmark)

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