Defending champion France was knocked out of the European Championship yesterday, losing 1-0 to Greece in a quarterfinal that became the latest upset in a tournament filled with surprising results.
For the first time in the 44-year history of the quadrennial event, Europe's five strongest soccer powers failed to make the semifinals. Germany, Italy and Spain were eliminated in the first round. England lost in a quarterfinal to Portugal on Thursday.
Also, no team has successfully repeated as champion in the tournament.
France went out of this year's event after Angelos Charisteas scored in the 66th minute on a header. Greek captain Theodoros Zagorakis chipped the ball over Bixente Lizarazu, sped down the field and crossed to Charisteas, who beat goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.
Thierry Henry almost tied the score with three minutes left, but his powerful header went wide.
"We started to play only when it was too late," French defender Lilian Thuram said.
It was another disappointing exit for France, which won the 1998 World Cup and followed up two years later by winning the European title. France was knocked out of the 2002 World Cup in the first round but, going into yesterday, had been unbeaten in 22 consecutive games.
As the game ended, the jubilant Greeks rushed toward their fans, linking arms and jumping up and down in celebration. A sign on the bus carrying the team carried the slogan: "Ancient Greece had 12 Gods. Modern Greece has 11."
"This is a great sensation," Greece Coach Otto Rehhagel said. "The people from New York to Rio to Tokyo will hear about this."
Note: Also yesterday, Giovanni Trapattoni was replaced by Marcello Lippi as Italy's coach, and Inaki Saez resigned as Spain's coach. Germany's Rudi Voeller quit on Thursday.
-- From News Services