France moved into the semifinals of the World Cup today with a stunning, 5-4 victory over three-time champion Brazil in a match decided on a shootout. Luis Fernandez made the decisive penalty kick.
In the day's second match, West Germany defeated Mexico, 4-1, also in a shootout story, B4 , and will meet France Wednesday in Guadalajara.
France-Brazil was the most exhausting and best-played match of this 13th Cup, worthy of a championship final. It was a day French goalkeeper Joel Bats will long remember and a day Brazilian star Socrates would like to soon forget.
Remarkably, the French recovered from a one-goal deficit despite being outplayed much of the afternoon at Jalisco Stadium, where Brazil had not lost in nine consecutive games. The French held Brazil scoreless over the final 103 minutes of regulation and overtime -- including a penalty kick by Zico late in the second half.
Careca scored his fifth Cup goal in the 17th minute to give Brazil a 1-0 lead, but Michel Platini tied it for France in the 42nd minute. The game then remained at 1-1 through regulation and through two 15-minute (non-sudden death) overtime periods.
That brought the contest to the shootout, where each team is given a maximum of five penalty kicks.
Socrates, who had missed on three scoring chances earlier, began the shootout. Curiously, he seemed to rush his attempt, which Bats went to his right and blocked. The kick had not been high enough, and the miss would end up costing Brazil.
Yannick Stoprya made his shot to give France a 2-1 lead. In the next two rounds, Brazil's Alemao and Zico converted, as did France's Manuel Amoros and Bruno Bellone, giving the French a 4-3 lead. Bellone's goal was remarkable -- the ball bounced off the right post, rebounded off goalkeeper Carlos' left shoulder as he lay sprawled on the ground and went in.
The fourth round brought a shock to the French. Branco made his kick to tie it for Brazil but Platini -- the French captain and perhaps the world's greatest player -- sent his kick over the goal. The score was tied at 4 entering the final round.
Brazil's Julio Cesar beat Bats with a low, hard drive to the left, but he did not beat the post. The ball ricocheted, bringing an eerie hush over the stadium, filled with Brazilian fans.
It was up to Fernandez. He had to wait an unusually long time until Carlos made his way back into the goal mouth. As soon as the goalkeeper set up, Fernandez began moving toward the ball, and he sent a hard right-footed shot into the left corner of the net. Carlos had dived the wrong way, but even if he hadn't it was doubtful he could have blocked Fernandez's blistering effort.
Fernandez ran off the field in triumph. Moments later, Platini caught up to him and hugged him.
"Carlos took an eternity to get to the goal, perhaps to make me more nervous," Fernandez said. "I decided I would not wait for him to get comfortable and set up. As soon as he got there and looked out to me, I kicked it."
France's improbable victory -- good European teams are not supposed to beat good Latin American teams in Latin America -- came on the inspired play of Bats.
The goalkeeper, his right leg heavily bandaged to protect a sprained knee, had limited mobility but made up for it with excellent positioning.
After Careca scored on a pass from Junior on which Bats had no chance, Bats was nearly flawless. Brazil was the much more inventive offensive team, and its speed created a half-dozen superb scoring opportunities. But Bats was equal to them.
After Platini's left-footed shot late in the first half tied the game, it became apparent the next score might decide it. Brazil, which had not given up a goal in four previous Cup matches, looked like it would get that score.
Just moments after entering as a substitute with 16 minutes left in regulation, Zico got the ball unmarked on a break. Bats came out to meet him and, just inside the penalty area, tripped Zico to force a penalty kick.
Zico lined up and kicked to the right. Bats went that way "because Zico prefers his penalty shots to his right" and blocked the ball with both hands. To be sure, Bats did not have to move much -- it was not a good effort by Zico -- but any save on a penalty kick is a huge lift for a team. In this case, it saved the match for France.
Bats made a great save on a header by Zico with six minutes left. Then came overtime.
Brazil dominated the first 15-minute extra period, but Bats again was equal to the task, making a superb save on Socrates' header.
In the second extra period, Platini took a long pass and drove toward the goal, with only Carlos between him and a score. Carlos rushed out and seemed to push Platini off the ball at the edge of the penalty area, but Romanian referee Ioan Igna made no call. Platini was furious.
On Brazil's counterattack, Socrates rushed down the left side and was given a perfect crossing pass, but he stumbled and whiffed at the ball from just in front of the goal.
Just minutes later, Bats blocked Socrates' penalty kick to begin the shootout and, just minutes after that, the French were mobbing each other while Socrates walked off the field alone, holding his perspiration-soaked shirt in one hand.