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By ESPN Staff
Jul 3, 2006

Portugal look to set record straight against France

MARIENFELD, Germany, (Reuters) -- Portugal are determined to beat France in its World Cup semifinal on Wednesday to avenge a defeat at the same stage of Euro 2000.

The match will be a repeat of a fiery encounter six years ago which the Portuguese lost 2-1 after Zinedine Zidane scored a controversial golden-goal penalty winner late in extra time.

"The rivalry is enormous, the 2000 game has stuck in our throats a bit," Portugal striker Helder Postiga told reporters on Monday recalling their European Championship defeat.

"The way we lost was frustrating. We started well and thought we would win. I hope the story is different this time."

The Euro 2000 semifinal ended in chaos and defender Abel Xavier was banned for nine months, reduced to six, as Portugal's players went crazy after the penalty was given for handball.

At the World Cup Portugal have already passed the original target set by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari who said before the tournament that he wanted to at least reach the quarterfinals.

The Portuguese went further by beating England on penalties on Saturday following a goalless draw to reach the last four.

"We knew we were good enough to get here and we've done it on our own merit," defender Miguel told reporters on Monday.

GREAT RESPECT

"We've great respect for France but, on Wednesday, we're going for a victory as usual."

"The campaign has been excellent and it has not finished yet. Our idea is to get to the final and then see what happens.

"It's a long time since Portugal have been in a situation like this," he added. "It's an important moment for us, for all the Portuguese and we don't want to let them or us down."

Portugal, beaten finalists in the 2004 European Championship which they hosted, have reached the last four for the first time since 1966, their best previous performance.

Miguel said the return of midfielder Deco, who was suspended for the England game, was a great boost.

"Deco's our magician, he's the player who can see a pass that other's don't see," he said.

But he added that the Portuguese were wary of the threat posed by French playmaker Zinedine Zidane.

"There's nobody who treats the ball like he does," said Miguel. "I hope he keeps a low profile."

He saw the French flanks as the weak point during their 1-0 quarterfinal win over Brazil.

"Brazil concentrated too much through the middle and should have played down the flanks," said Miguel. "The weak point is the fullbacks and that's what we can exploit."