Zidane a hero, France in final


The Associated Press
Portugal's goalkeeper Ricardo is unable to stop a penalty kick for a goal by France's Zinedine Zidane (10) as Portugal's Deco looks on during the World Cup semifinal match between Portugal and France at the World Cup stadium in Munich, Germany, Wednesday.

AP Sports Writer
MUNICH, Germany — ZZ’s top won the World Cup for France eight years ago, and Zinedine Zidane’s foot put the French in the final this time.
With sweat dripping off his bald pate, Zidane converted a penalty kick in the 33rd minute to give France a 1-0 victory over Portugal on Wednesday night and a berth against Italy in an all-blue World Cup final, Les Bleus vs. the Azzurri.
After the game, tens of thousands filled the Champs-Elysees in Paris, shouting “Zizou, Zizou!” and “We’re in the final!”
“If we win, it will be wonderful for those who have supported us,” Zidane said. “I’m not talking about the ones who jumped on the bandwagon, but those who supported us from start to finish.”
The match turned on one penalty kick awarded and another denied. Though Ricardo Pereira correctly chose a dive to his right, Zidane’s kick was perfect and barely eluded the goalkeeper’s fingertips.
Others may have not expected the 34-year-old Zidane, who is retiring after Sunday’s final, to carry his aging teammates this far. Pardon him, though, if the French captain feels like this has all happened before.
Six years ago, Zidane’s penalty kick with three minutes left in extra time beat Portugal in the European Championship semifinals to set up a final against — who else? — Italy. France overcame a deficit with 30 seconds left in second-half injury time to win that one in extra time.
Three-time World Cup champion Italy, seeking its first title since 1982, will be appearing in its sixth final.
France was supposed to be soccer’s over-the-hill gang, written off as too old and too tired. This will be its second appearance in a World Cup final — the other came in 1998, when Zidane scored twice on headers in a 3-0 victory over Brazil at Stade de France outside Paris. Six players remain from that team.
The French earned their chance at a second title after Ricardo Carvalho tripped up Thierry Henry a yard inside the penalty area.
“It was a penalty. We can’t contest it,” Portugal coach Luis Felipe Scolari conceded.
Just three minutes after Zidane scored, Portugal’s players and Scolari were livid that Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda didn’t award them a penalty in return. Cristiano Ronaldo went down in the other penalty area trying to reach a cross, claiming he was pushed by Willy Sagnol.
A yellow water bottle was kicked onto the field from Portugal’s bench when no call was made.
“He was right when he called the penalty on the French player, but was wrong when he did not call it on Cristiano,” Scolari said.
After the final whistle, Portugal captain Luis Figo walked over to the referee, spoke with him, then gave him mock applause.
“Anyone who understands soccer saw that the referee wasn’t fair,” Ronaldo said.
Scolari, who spent much of the match in front of his bench and throwing his arms up in frustration, wagged a finger at the officials as they walked off, and was blocked from getting close to them by a FIFA official.
Zidane’s goal was his 30th in 107 international appearances, tying Just Fontaine and Jean-Pierre Papin on France’s career list.
“I told myself that if I score and we don’t allow any goals, we will be in the final,” Zidane said. “I didn’t think of anything else.”
With just a few minutes to go, French fans in one corner of the stadium started singing “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem, and followed with chants of “Allez Les Bleus!”
Now unbeaten in nine straight games, France started the World Cup slowly with ties against Switzerland and South Korea before beating Togo to get to the knockout phase. The French then defeated Spain, defending champion Brazil and finally Portugal to reach the final.
Waiting for them will be a familiar opponent.
The French rallied to defeat Italy 2-1 in the 2000 Euro final when Sylvain Wiltord scored with 30 seconds left in second-half injury time and David Trezeguet got a goal 13 minutes into sudden-death extra time. France also beat the Italians on penalty kicks in the 1998 World Cup quarterfinals.
Portugal, a 20-1 shot last December, advanced to the World Cup semifinals for just the second time. Eusebio, the hero of Portugal’s 1966 run, was on hand, as was former French captain Michel Platini, considered by many his nation’s greatest player.
France’s win ended Portugal’s 19-game unbeaten streak dating to a February 2005 exhibition loss at Ireland. It also stopped Scolari’s 12-game undefeated string in World Cup matches.
Zidane’s goal was the first goal Portugal allowed since the 29th minute of its first-round finale against Mexico.
“He’s a real star, but a real star in the real sense of the word, someone who brings something to his team and helps the French public to keep dreaming,” France coach Raymond Domenech said.
“But it’s nothing new. That has been happening for 10 years or so. He played all-out to reach the final without holding back.”


Yankees bounce back

By The Associated Press
The New York Yankees couldn’t quite wipe out memories of the second-worst loss in franchise history in 24 hours. But they still came pretty close.
A day after losing 19-1 to Cleveland, the Yankees beat the Indians 11-3 on Wednesday night with Mike Mussina adding in a little American League history.
Mussina allowed three runs and five hits in six innings and didn’t show any effects from a slight groin pull. He improved his career record to 234-130. He started with Baltimore in 1991 and joined the Yankees in 2001.
New York’s rebound win may have come with a price as center fielder Johnny Damon left in the third inning with a slight muscle pull in his stomach. The Yankees are already missing outfielders Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui because of injuries and second baseman Robinson Cano is also on the disabled list.
Ben Broussard hit a two-run homer and Todd Hollandsworth had a solo shot for the Indians, who had their winning streak stopped at four.
Cleveland third baseman Aaron Boone had three errors, two in the eight-run fourth.
Paul Byrd (6-6) allowed nine runs — four earned — and 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings, his shortest outing since lasting only three innings at Kansas City on April 22.



Homer baseball camp sessions set

HOMER — Three sessions still remain for the Homer Youth Baseball camp, under the direction of Jeff Flegler.
The co-ed camp for players ages 7-13 will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday on July 10-13, 17-20 and 24-27 at Casey Fields. Morning sessions will feature hitting and field instruction, base-running instruction and fun as well as trivia contests in which campers can stump the staff for prizes. After lunch, with food and drinks available for sale, the afternoon session will feature games between teams of campers.
A 41st-round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1999, Flegler played for two years at Briarcliffe College, where he holds career records for hits, home runs and RBIs. He finished his playing career at SUNY Cortland, where he was named SUNYAC and ECAC Player of the year in 2003.
Flegler is currently in his second year as coach of the Cortland American Legion Post 489 squad, and helped run the Cortland Apples youth baseball camps that took place at Homer’s Griggs Field from 2000 to 2002.
There is a cost for registration, with further information available by calling Flegler at 423-6137.