PARIS (AFP) - Veteran France international midfielder Claude Makelele confirmed his international retirement on Tuesday following the 2006 World Cup finalists first round exit from Euro 2008.
The 35-year-old Chelsea star rounded off his 71-cap career in the 2-0 defeat by world champions Italy which left the French bottom of Group C and an early plane home.
"I always said this would be my final competition," said Makelele, who also played for Nantes and Marseille in France.
"I have no regrets at finishing now.
"Most of the decisions I have taken I have always taken 100percent.
"I have sweated for this shirt and it has brought me 100percent happiness, so there are no regrets.
"A new generation can take the reins and come together. I am totally with them," added Makelele, whose international highlight would have been as part of the 2006 World Cup final side that lost on penalties to Italy.
Makalele was not the last to announce his retirement in the aftermath of the match as 36-year-old Lilian Thuram, France's record caps holder with 142 caps, also announced he was calling it a day.
"This elimination is very difficult to take, it is even more difficult for me because it is my last match with France," said Thuram, who was left on the bench for the Italy match having been exposed during the 4-1 defeat by Holland.
"As for my future, I would like to continue to play but I don't know if a club wants me," added Thuram, who is wanted by ailing French giants Paris Saint Germain but is thought to be keen on a political career.
Others such as Patrick Vieira and goalkeeper Gregory Coupet are thought to be considering retiring.
However, Thierry Henry, France's record goalscorer with 45 in 102 matches, said he wasn't going to take an instant decision.
"Yes, of course, I want to continue," said the 30-year-old, who had a miserable first season with Barcelona.
"I had already said that it had crossed my mind (of retiring) but I am here.
"I don't know what is going to happen but I am going to reflect on what I am going to do."
PARIS (AFP) - Beleagured France coach Raymond Domenech sought solace in his personal life on Tuesday as he publicly proposed to his girlfriend on French television just moments after his side had ignominously exited Euro 2008 at the first hurdle with a 2-0 defeat by Italy.
The 56-year-old swatted aside a question about his professional future with the French side a little more deftly and movingly than his side had on the pitch in their three Group C matches, to propose to his long-time girlfriend Estelle Denis, a television presenter.
"I have only one plan at the moment, it is to marry Estelle, and it is only this evening that I ask for her hand in marriage," said Domenech, who had been asked about whether he felt he had a future as France coach.
"I know that it is difficult, but it is in moments like these that one has need of everyone, and I need her."
Domenech, whose contract runs till 2010 and has been in charge since 2004 having guided them to the 2006 World Cup final, did eventually reply to the question about his professional future.
"I am not asking myself that question, as it is a political problem.
"This team has a future, it has a real plan, there are young players coming through, there is something really interesting to do.
"It is a political problem and I have never dabbled in anything other than sporting matters."
ZURICH, Switzerland (AFP) - World champions Italy beat old foes France 2-0 here on Tuesday to go through to the Euro 2008 quarter-finals as Group C runners up with a helping hand from Holland whilst their rivals and 2006 World Cup finalists exited.
The French endured a wretched night, suffering two major blows in the first 25 minutes, with first star midfielder Franck Ribery stretchered off then Eric Abidal red-carded with Andrea Pirlo converting the penalty.
Daniele de Rossi added Italy's second after the break to send the world champion's on a last eight date with Spain in Vienna on Sunday.
The win would have been inconsequential if the Romanians had beaten Holland, but the Dutch instead beat Romania 2-0 to make it three wins out of three.
Italy coach Roberto Donadoni said that despite the outside pressures after two successive poor results, a 3-0 defeat by the Dutch and a 1-1 draw with Romania, there had always been inner belief in the squad.
"We have never lost hope, even in the most difficult times," said the former AC Milan and Italy midfielder.
"We put in a good performance and the team was cohesive and came together.
"I never had any worries about the Dutch as I know well the spirit of Marco van Basten (who was his team-mate at AC Milan)."
Despite the catastrophic defeat France coach Raymond Domenech, remained stoic in defeat.
"I am proud of the players," said the 56-year-old, whose future must be in doubt even though his contract runs till 2010.
"The manner they stuck to it despite all these circumstances which are so similar to the World Cup final, lose to a penalty again and a sending-off (it was in fact rather different, a penalty shootout at 1-1 and Zinedine Zidane was sent off in the 2006 World Cup final).
"They showed energy. They showed something, its a pity because the circumstances were against us.
"This team has something in its guts, it has qualities. We were 10 against 11 and we had also lost Ribery. This team has a real future and potential," added Domenech, who rather bizarrely knowing he needed to win the game replaced attacking midfielder Samir Nasri 10 minutes after he had come on for Ribery with defender Jean-Alain Boumsong when Abidal was sent off.
For France elimination, with just one goal scored, was the unwelcome prize for a campaign dogged by reported internal strife, player fatigue and controversy over injured captain Patrick Vieira.
This game was billed as 'our final' by Domenech, and it could well be his with 1998 French World Cup winner Emmanuel Petit for one saying heads should roll.
At kick-off a perfect rainbow enveloped the Letzigrund stadium as both teams went in search of their pot of gold.
France lost Ribery, their best player up to now, early on in proceedings.
Luca Toni's Bayern teammate was stretchered off on a buggy after going over on his left ankle in a tackle on Gianluca Zambrotta.
Play resumed with a corner for Italy and only quick thinking by France midfielder Claude Makelele kept out Christian Panucci's low angled header.
Gregory Coupet then did well to deny Pirlo's curling 20 metre freekick from the right flank.
The game's turning point came in the 24th minute when Toni, at full stretch trying to latch on to a lob, was tackled and felled from behind by Abidal in the box.
Slovakian referee Lubos Michel had no hesitation in pulling out a red card, with Pirlo blasting his shot high into the left hand corner.
Abidal's sending off evoked wretched memories for France of the last time these two countries met in a major competition, in the World Cup final, when Zinedine Zidane was given his marching orders for headbutting Marco Materazzi.
That though came in the closing minutes and with over an hour's play left here Domenech decided to shore up his defence, taking off Nasri for Jean-Alain Boumsong.
Coupet then performed wonders to tip out with his fingers Fabio Grosso's 25m freekick.
Up at the other end Pirlo was booked for an ugly challenge on Karim Benzema, his second of the competition which rules the AC Milan playmaker out of the quarter-final with Spain.
The Azzurri celebrated the news that the Dutch had taken the lead over the Romanians when de Rossi struck a 30m freekick which flew past Coupet after the ball was diverted on its course by Henry's foot.
Domenech introduced Nicolas Anelka for Sidney Govou in a desperate bid to salvage the match.
Then not for the first time in this competition Buffon performed miracles to tip out a Benzema special from the edge of the area which was heading into the top far corner.
The stuffing though had been knocked out of France and Italy were never going to be denied, the resounding win keeping alive their dream of a repeat of their 1968 success.
ZURICH, Jun 17 (SW) - Italy took advantage of some early mistakes by France to qualify for the Euro 2008 quarter-finals with a 2-0 victory in Group C on Tuesday, aided by the Dutch victory over Romania.
Italy started strong as Luca Toni dragged a shot wide after just four minutes that could have put the Azzurri in front, but France were hard done five minutes later when Franck Ribéry was forced off with a leg injury.
France would put themselves further behind it in the 25th minute when Eric Abidal was sent off for hauling down Toni in the penalty area, and Andrea Pirlo confidently smashed home from the spot to give Italy a 1-0 lead.
Fabio Grosso almost had a second just before half-time when his free kick was touched onto the post by Grégory Coupet, but it was delaying the inevitable.
In the 62nd minute, Daniele De Rossi's 30-yard free kick took a deflection off of Thierry Henry in the wall and wrong-footed Coupet, icing the game for the Italians.
Roberto Donadoni's men didn't come out unscaved though, as they will be without Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso for the quarter-final against Spain after they each picked up their second bookings of the group stage.
ZURICH, Jun 17 (SW) - Group C of Euro 2008 climaxes on Tuesday as France and Italy square off in Zurich in a rematch of the 2006 World Cup final. SoccerWay keeps you up to date as both sides look to stave off elimination.
Current score: 0-2
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FULL-TIME: Italy are into the quarter-finals against Spain and France are left to prepare for World Cup qualifying with Romania.
Minute 90+3: Toni has missed a lot of chances tonight, but he misses another here. Could have been a nice way for him to wrap it up.
NED-ROU update: Truly that's it now for Group C as the Dutch are up 2-0 on Romania thanks to Robin van Persie who scores his second of the tournament.
Minute 86: Camoranesi comes close to the third for Italy. His shot deflects off a French defender away from the target. Corner kick to Italy.
Minute 85: And another booking yet, this time for Henry for a challenge on Zambrotta.
Minute 82: Gattuso, suspended for the quarter-finals, is replaced by Alberto Aquilani, making his first appearance of the tournament.
Minute 74: France stay off the scoreboard thanks to Buffon. Great shot by Benzema from outside the area, but the Italian goalkeeper makes a fantastic diving stop.
Minute 72: Booking for Boumsong. Tensions have been high in this match, and it's been reflected in the 6 cautions and one dismissal.
Minute 66: Another change coming here, this the final one for France. Govou is off with Nicolas Anelka coming on.
Minute 64: Simone Perrotta is taken off for Italy, with Mauro Camoranesi taking his place.
Minute 62: GOAL ITALY (0-2) DANIELE DE ROSSI scores on a free kick from 30 yards out after it takes a deflection off of Henry in the wall.
Minute 61: Coupet has to come out of the area and play the ball away with Toni bearing down on him.
Minute 55: Pirlo is now off with Massimo Ambrosini coming on.
NED-ROU update: More good news for Italy as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has put the Netherlands in front in Bern. 1-0 to the Dutch.
Minute 54: Gattuso catches a booking now and he too will miss out on any quarter-final action.
Minute 53: Another effort by Henry, this one from distance, takes a deflection before rolling on harmlessly to Buffon.
Minute 52: Henry turns on a weak shot in the area and it rolls right into the arms of a waiting Buffon.
Minute 50: Volley attempt by Benzema goes just high of the target after Henry's attempted shot falls back to him outside of the area.
Minute 47: Another booking now for France with Govou cautioned for a studs-up tackle on Cassano.
Minute 46: Back underway in Zurich with France needing something special.
HALF-TIME: We've reached half-time and it's all gone Italy's way. Eric Abidal sent off and Andrea Pirlo converting the subsequent penalty. Not to mention the injury to Franck Ribéry, and it's all gone wrong for France. Italy have one foot in the door, with Romania still 0-0 with Holland.
Minute 45+4: Another booking for Italy, this one to Chiellini for coming through Henry to get to the ball, studs up.
Minute 44: Pirlo goes into the book now for a late tackle on Benzema and that's crushing for Italy because he would miss the quarter-finals should they get there.
Minute 44: Fabio Grosso lines up a left-footed free kick from 20 yards out and curls around the wall...but onto the post! Coupet got ever so slight a touch onto it. So nearly two for Italy.
Minute 38: The free kick from 26 yards is taken by Benzema right into the wall. Never had a chance.
Minute 37: Free kick in a dangerous area here for France as Henry is taken down by Gennaro Gattuso.
Minute 34: Thierry Henry has a great opportunity for France. Ball slides into his path, but the striker drags it just across the face of the far post.
Minute 30: Toni again for Italy missing a chance, turning and hitting another shot wide of the target.
Minute 30: Pirlo plays in a great ball for Toni, but the striker's first-time effort is wide. France are in a shambles now.
Minute 28: Toni has a flick on goal with his back to the target and just puts it past the post. What a goal that would have been.
Minute 28: Daniele De Rossi has a crack at goal from 30 yards, and it's a fantastic effort that just rises high of the goal. France are well up against it now.
Minute 26: Already the second switch for France. Nasri has to come back off to put a defender back on in place of Abidal. It's Jean-Alain Boumsong to take his place.
Minute 25: GOAL ITALY (0-1) ANDREA PIRLO slots it home with precision and Italy lead it here.
Minute 24: Penalty to Italy! Abidal pulls down Toni in the area and is sent off! France down to 10 men and Italy with a chance to go in front!
Minute 22: Pirlo touches it forward for Cassano, but the touch lets him down as Coupet takes it.
Minute 19: Sidney Govou had options on either side of him for France, but he chooses to go at it himself but whistles it well wide. Henry and Clerc were there with him.
Minute 18: Referee Lubos Michel has pulled out his book for the first time in the game, Patrice Evra cautioned for a studs-up tackle on Antonio Cassano.
Minute 15: Karim Benzema has a go from the edge of the area, but he lacks a bit of power on the shot and drags it just wide of the post. Gianluigi Buffon had it covered in any event.
Minute 11: Header by Christian Panucci after a set piece forces a nice save out of Grégory Coupet.
Minute 10: Samir Nasri is ready to come on. Ribéry's day is done after less than 10 minutes.
Minute 8: Ribéry is down grasping his calf after a foul on Gianluca Zambrotta and the cart is on its way out. This could be bad news for France.
Minute 4: Should have been the opener for Italy! A long clearance from Giorgio Chiellini falls to Luca Toni who tries to hit it on the half-volley rather than control it, and it sizzles wide of the post.
Minute 2: Shot by Franck Ribéry at the top of the area is blocked out for an early French corner kick. That effort is cleared away.
Kickoff: Let the games begin! High tension likely to reign supreme here today.
Pre-Game: If you want to keep your focus here, we will provide updates from the other match in this group from Bern between the Netherlands and Romania.
Pre-Game: For Raymond Domenech and France, there are three changes to the side that was hammered 4-1 by the Dutch. Eric Abidal is in the center of defense for Lilian Thuram, François Clerc sees his first action at right-back for Willy Sagnol, and Florent Malouda is withdrawn for Karim Benzema.
Pre-Game: Italy manager Roberto Donadoni makes just two switches from the team that drew 1-1 with Romania as Gennaro Gattuso returns to the team in place of Mauro Camoranesi and Antonio Cassano goes from the start in attack with Alessandro Del Piero relegated to the bench.
Pre-Game: Both Italy and France will make it to the quarter-finals with a victory and if Romania drop points against the Netherlands. If Romania win, both of these teams would be eliminated. If Italy and France draw and Romania lose to the Dutch, then goal difference and other permutations would come into play to determine which of the three would go through with Holland. In fact, Romania can still get through with a loss provided the result here is a 0-0 draw. We will be sure to keep you posted.
ZÜRICH (SW) - When the groups for the 2008 European Championships were announced, France and Italy surely didn't expect to be in the position they are in now, ahead of their last group match.
After a scoreless draw with Romania and the 4-1 crushing by the Dutch, France need a good result against Italy to have a chance of advancing.
Striker Thierry Henry, who scored France's only goal so far at Euro 2008, says to be hopeful: "Remember the trouble we had in qualifying for the World Cup in that group with the Republic of Ireland and Switzerland.
"It was the same at the World Cup itself and in qualification for the EURO. This team has already suffered a lot."
Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, who made his Euro debut against Romania, considers the French to be a very strong team:
"From my point of view Franck Ribéry and Thierry Henry are the two most dangerous players. France are a great side and the match on Tuesday will be really tough. I saw their match against the Netherlands and when they were 1-0 down they had a couple of chances to equalise.
"They even had a good penalty shout turned down so they are not as bad as all that. Their result wasn't a fair reflection of the match. They are a side to fear and respect but we'll try to beat them."
The two giants met each other regularly over the past few years. Best known is of course the Italian penalty victory in the 2006 World Cup final.
But a few months later, the French won their Euro 2008 qualifier 3-1. In September 2007, their second qualification meeting went by goalless.
|18-06||Makelele and Thuram call time on international careers|
|18-06||Domenech looks for new engagement as national divorce looms|
|17-06||Italy into Euro 2008 quarters after toppling 10-man France|
|17-06||Quick Report: France 0-2 Italy|
|17-06||Minute by Minute: France - Italy|
|16-06||Preview: France - Italy|