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France out as Denmark march on

Denmark
Denmark's Jon Dahl Tomasson celebrates his goal against France  


INCHEON, South Korea (CNN) -- Champions France were unceremoniously dumped out of the World Cup, losing 2-0 to Denmark to finish bottom of their group without a goal.

It was a humiliating end to France's reign in a campaign dogged by injury. The last defending champions to fail to get past the group stage at a World Cup finals were Brazil in 1966.

Needing to win by two clear goals to qualify for the last 16, they dominated possession and twice hit the woodwork but were caught cold by two breakaway goals on a hot afternoon in Incheon.

In Tuesday's other Group A game, Uruguay came from 3-0 behind to draw 3-3 with Senegal, meaning Denmark go through as group winners along with Senegal. (Senegal v Uruguay)

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France coach Roger Lemerre said his team would "bounce back" but he did not speculate about his own future.

"For the time being we must put things into perspective," he told reporters. "My personal fate is not important. It's not me that is important, the most important thing is to look to the youth.

"I have been in this job for 30 years. This is one of the best in the world but you must accept the defeat as well as the victory. We did not deserve to go through."

There was despair back in France among thousands of fans watching on TV and on big screens. (Picture gallery)

"I feel let down by this team -- they were arrogant, and put on a pathetic show," said 21-year-old Vincent Picard in Paris. (More reaction)

The scars may take time to heal, said Christian Malar, a senior analyst with France Free Television.

"Today, when the nation is looking for a new identity with new political blood, it seems that this defeat might have an effect on the state of mind of the French people, and an impact on a social level." (Full story)

There was also despair in the business community. TF1, France's top commercial broadcaster, which bought exclusive French rights to screen the World Cup for 60 million euros, saw the value of its stock take a dive. (Full story)

Goalie
France's goalie Fabien Barthez reacts after the second Danish goal  

But Danes were celebrating one of their finest triumphs. In Copenhagen cafes overflowed and motorists sounded their horns as the party began.

Denmark soaked up the pressure then took the lead after 23 minutes. Dennis Rommedahl was unmarked as he ran in at the back post and swept home a cross. "I could hardly believe I scored," he told Danish TV. "I'm sure we will take it far now."

And as France threw men forward, Jon Dahl Tomasson came up with the knockout punch in the second half.

France, beaten 1-0 by Senegal in their opening game then held 0-0 by Uruguay, had star midfielder Zinedine Zidane back from injury. They played with urgency but came up against a resolute Danish defence.

David Trezeguet wasted a great chance to open the scoring in the 18th minute after he escaped down the right. But with Sylvain Wiltord unmarked in the middle and screaming for the ball, he went for goal and Thomas Sorensen fell on the shot.

Then Zidane, his left thigh heavily strapped, failed to control a through-ball as he ran into the penalty area. But he was inches away with a curling free-kick eight minutes before the interval.

France's frustration grew in the second half as captain Marcel Desailly headed against the bar.

Then Trezeguet smashed a shot against the underside of the bar. But by then the game was up.

France's fate had been sealed in the 68th minute. Tomasson was unchallenged as he converted a left-wing cross for his fourth goal in three games, making him the tournament's joint top scorer.

Denmark Thomas Sorensen; Thomas Helveg, Rene Henriksen, Martin Laursen, Niclas Jensen; Dennis Rommedahl, Thomas Gravesen, Stig Tofting, Martin Jorgensen; Christian Poulsen, Jon Dahl Tomasson

France Fabien Barthez; Vincent Candela, Lilian Thuram, Marcel Desailly, Bixente Lizarazu; Patrick Vieira, Claude Makelele; Sylvain Wiltord, Zinedine Zidane, Christophe Dugarry; David Trezeguet

Referee Vitor Melo Pereira (Portugal)





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