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By ESPN Staff

Brazil distraught at exit at hands of France

FRANKFURT, July 1 (Reuters) - Shattered Brazil struggled to come to terms with a 1-0 quarter-final defeat by France on Saturday that ended their dreams of winning a sixth World Cup.

Brazil, who are the world, Copa America and Confederations Cup champions, were hot favourites to win the tournament with their embarrassing array of talent.

Instead, they made an early exit after their third successive defeat to France at a World Cup finals.

Brazil lost on penalties after a 1-1 draw at the same stage of the 1986 World Cup and were beaten 3-0 in the 1998 final.

'There's no describing our disappointment,' said Ronaldinho, who failed throughout the tournament to live up to his billing as the World Player of the Year.

'It's an enormous sadness especially after a long period in which we've become used to winning all the competitions.

'When you get used to winning and took a knock like this, it's very sad. I wanted to make Brazil champions.'

Midfielder Kaka said: 'You prepare for four years and it's sad to go out this way, it's frustrating.'

'It's a sad day for Brazilians.

'We never managed to impose our rhythm on the game at any moment,' he added.

The defeat was Brazil's first at the tournament since they lost to France in that 1998 final. Since then, they had clocked up 11 successive wins -- seven on their way to winning in 2002 and another four in this year's tournament.

'France played better than Brazil,' said midfielder Emerson, who was left on the bench for the game. 'There's nothing to hide.'

Felow midfielder Juninho Pernambucano appeared braced for the reception back home.

'We played badly and we didn't deserve to win. We have to accept the criticisms.'

The Brazilians were generous in their praise for France captain Zinedine Zidane, who is retiring after the finals.

'Unfortunately, he had a great game today and he's a great player,' said Kaka.

Brazil captain Cafu added: 'It was Zidane who tipped the balance of the game. We left him free for the whole game and leaving Zidane free is very dangerous. He was, without doubt, the man of the match.'