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Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League

Perez deserves a first-team spot

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By ESPN Staff

Domenech: Italy and France deserved finallists

MUNICH, July 5 (Reuters) - France and Italy, who meet in the World Cup final on Sunday, have already achieved the two best feats at the tournament, said French coach Raymond Domenech.

'There were two achievements during this tournament, it was our success over Brazil because that was something that not anybody can do,' Domenech told a news conference after France defeated Portugal 1-0 in Wednesday's semi-final.

'The other great moment was the win of the Italians over the Germans yesterday in Dortmund because they did it in style. Hats off and bravo to them,' he said.

France defeated holders and five-times winners Brazil 1-0 in the quarter-finals, Thierry Henry netting the winner just before the hour.

Italy ended hosts Germany's run with two late goals in extra time on Tuesday for a 2-0 semi-final success.

'We are very proud of what we have achieved so far and I can say that I'm personally highly proud of my players,' Domenech said.

'But now we have a last match to play and our goal is to win this final. I have often said that our goal was to be in Berlin on July 9 but now I can tell you that we want to be there to celebrate.'

Domenech praised his side for withstanding some intense Portugal pressure, particularly in the second half. France held firm for victory with Zinedine Zidane's penalty on 33 minutes proving decisive.

'They proved tonight that they are capable of suffering. It was certainly the toughest match we have played since the start of the tournament,' added the coach.

'The guys refused to give anything up and the defence was outstanding. When you see what they have done tonight, you can only be happy.

'Now, we will have to try to recover physically because we used up a lot of energy in tonight's game.'

Domenech confirmed that the Berlin final will be the last of playmaker Zidane's glittering career. The 34-year-old said before the finals that he would bow out when France did.

'It's going to be his last match. It's now for sure.

'I'm certain it makes him even happier. It was the way he wanted to leave. I'm simply happy for him.'