The second FIFA Confederations Cup France 2003 semi-final between France and Turkey was played out in an atmosphere of deep emotion after the news of Marc-Vivien Foé’s death. France got off to a flying start with two quick goals, but Turkey came back to challenge strongly at the end. With five goals, a missed penalty and plenty of exciting passages of play, this semi-final at the Stade de France was undoubtedly one of the best games of the competition - as if in homage to the Cameroon midfielder.
The pre-match proceedings were fittingly sombre and the sentiment palpable, particularly among the French players who had played alongside Marc-Vivien Foé in France and England. The Bleus were straight into action at the kick-off and opened the scoring early on. Robert Pirès broke clear on the right, cut inside and pulled the ball back to Sylvain Wiltord. His first time pass to Thierry Henry found his fellow Gunner all alone in the six-yard box and he had no trouble slipping the ball past Recber Rustu (1-0, 11’). Henry then invited his team-mates to join him in paying tribute to Foé by pointing a finger to the sky.
The French were well on top, and soon doubled their lead. This time it was Sidney Govou who found space on the right to pull the ball back to Henry, who picked out an onrushing Robert Pirès with a gem of a pass. The midfield man picked his spot and Rustu was beaten again (2-0, 25’).
Jacques Santini’s men were in danger of running away with the game, but Turkey finally got their act together and began finding each other with customary flair and technique. Just before the break they brought themselves back into the game. Gokdeniz Karadeniz got his head to a left-wing cross, forcing Grégory Coupet into a save that fell nicely at the Turkish player’s feet. He needed no third invitation and reduced the deficit (2-1, 42’).
But if Senol Gunes’ charges thought they could go in at half-time just one goal down, they were sorely mistaken - the French forwards were to strike again. Henry rushed to intercept a back pass to substitute keeper Omer Catkic, who had come on in place of the injured Rustu. He teed up Govou, whose shot was blocked, before Pirès struck the woodwork with the rebound and Arsenal team-mate Wiltord eventually finished off the move (3-1, 44’).
Turkey continued to push forward in first-half injury time, Ergun Penbe overlapping on the left and crossing for Tuncay Sanli whose close range header flew wide (45+3). More sustained Turkish pressure at the start of the second half was eventually rewarded when Sanli volleyed into the top corner from just inside the area. A superb goal and now Turkey were back in the game. (3-2, 49’).
The French looked tired, while the goal had obviously recharged Turkish batteries. Fatih Akyel almost equalised with a great 25-yard effort but Coupet just managed to keep it out (55’). It was one-way traffic by now but the Bleus held firm until the very last minute when Olivier Dacourt tugged on Ibrahim Uzulmez’s shirt and Mr Larrionda blew a penalty. Okan Yilmaz stepped up, only to put his effort wide of the post - and the game was up (89’). France are through to the Final where they meet a mourning Cameroon side. The excellent Turkish side will now attempt to win third place in Saturday’s play-off against Colombia.