UEFA Euro 2020

The story of France's Golden Goal win over Portugal at Euro 2000

Robbie Copeland
Zinedine Zidane strokes home the winning penalty
Zinedine Zidane strokes home the winning penalty / Ben Radford/Getty Images

France's dramatic extra-time victory over Italy in the final of Euro 2000 will forever be held up as a symbol of their undying will to win under Roger Lemerre.

But while David Trezeguet's golden goal in the final remains one of the most famous moments in French football history, it may actually be their semi-final win over Portugal that says the most about the greatness the side.

Heading into the competition, only one team had ever won the World Cup and the European Championships back to back, and while France remained one of the favourites, there were question marks over their credentials.

Mainly because Aime Jaquet, the manager who had led them to glory on home turf, had stepped aside, leaving the job to his assistant Roger Lemerre.

As it turned out, he had one of the easier jobs on the international scene. He inherited a squad full of world class winners who were out with a point to prove, as Zinedine Zidane fronted up a team that read more like a Classic XI from FIFA 08 than it did an individual nation's starting lineup.

The French talisman was already well on his way to winning the player of the tournament award, and his performances leading up to the semi-finals were heralded as Maradona-like. That was no overstatement, as Portugal soon found out.

For 120 minutes, he danced through the Portuguese side, taking central midfielders Costinha and Jose Luis Vidigal for a merry dance with his preposterous close control.

Zidane was a joy to watch, even if the game itself wasn't particularly pretty.

France had controlled possession and dominated the early part of the game, but it was Portugal who took the lead in Brussels. A fabulous strike from Nuno Gomes bloodied the nose of the world champions, who had to respond if they were to become the first side since West Germany in 1974 to win both the World Cup and European Championships.

They had their answer in the second half of normal time, when Nicolas Anelka hit the by-line and cut back to the clinical Thierry Henry. His precise finish, low across Vitor Baia, inspired a monumental sigh of relief in the French ranks, and ultimately took the game to extra-time.

Thierry Henry
France players celebrate Henry's equaliser / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

It was here that the real drama started, as the short-lived Golden Goal reared its head. Fortunately for Lemerre, Zidane and France, it fell in their favour.

With just three minutes of extra-time to play, a desperate handball from Portuguese defender Abel Xavier gave Zidane the chance to cement his Golden Ball credentials from the penalty spot, and let's be honest, he was never going to miss.

He made it seem as if 117th-minute penalties in the European Championship semi-finals were nothing, coolly passing the ball beyond Baia and wheeling off to celebrate the instant it left the instep of his right boot.

Zinedine Zidane
Zidane's penalty hits the back of the net / Ben Radford/Getty Images

The victory convinced the world, if it wasn't convinced already, that France were here to make history.

And while Italy were going to provide a huge test, the French had the star power, the winning mentality, and the sheer force of character to take it all the way for a second tournament running.