The final of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2005 went to the wire as France took the title on penalties. Alan's miss gave Eric Cantona's team the win after the score was locked at 3-3 after extra time. His French side are now European and World Champions.

"Maybe we won today because they were a little bit more tired than us after their tough game yesterday," said a magnanimous Cantona after the game. "But I thought the best two teams were in the final and overall I thought we deserved to win the tournament."

The all-European final was a repeat of the 2000 final, when again Portugal had defeated Brazil in the semi-final. There was to be no fairytale repeat for coach Ze Miguel - the keeper five years ago - who had to watch as Alan, normally so reliable from dead ball situations, saw his shot rebound back off the bar.


The drama at the end more than made up for a first period which began tentatively. Neither side was willing to commit players forward and risk gaps at the back. Both Ze Miguel and Cantona knew that the opposition would wait patiently for mistakes and exploit them ruthlessly. Madjer, the match-winner against Brazil, played in a withdrawn position and rarely threatened Aubry in the French goal. The keeper made one excellent save to deny Belchior as the period ended goalless.

Madjer did venture forward early in the second period and it led to a goal - though not for Portugal. His near-post volley from a corner was saved by Aubry who immediately sent Samoun clear. His cross was met by a trademark stab from one of Mendy's long legs to give France the lead. The same player then doubled France's advantage, cleverly directing a header into the corner from Edouard's throw.

The third period caught fire as tiredness produced gaps to exploit. Madjer cut the deficit to 2-1 with a long free-kick which kicked off the sand into the top corner. But Mendy completed his hat-trick after holding off Marinho on the break. Madjer then shook the bar from the restart and surprisingly missed with a free-kick ten metres out. Belchior came on, and the little forward span round Edouard to shoot across Aubry from a tight angle. With the clock ticking down, Cardoso broke with support inside him and only Alan defending. He chose to try a cross which was cut out by Alan who was brought down. His free-kick was saved, but Belchior turned in the rebound with just eight seconds remaining for 3-3.

The obvious tension during the three minutes of extra-time meant precious few goal chances - the best created by Ottavy who flicked up and volleyed fiercely at Bruno. The Portuguese keeper did superbly well to tip onto the bar.

And so to penalties. Up stepped the ultra-reliable Ottavy who smashed high into the roof of the net for 1-0. Alan had a long wait for his kick, which he blasted even harder than Ottavy's but his shot struck the bar. Madjer, who had turned his back on proceedings, realised from the noise what had happened and sank to his knees with his head in the sand. The French players celebrated with a team embrace emphasising the feeling that while Portugal perhaps had the better individuals, France had the better team.

"Tiredness was a component in this result after our hard match yesterday and another one today," said Portugal coach Ze Miguel afterwards. "But we managed to recover from 2-0 down, so maybe you could say that we had the luck yesterday and France had it today."

Referees: Carlos Robles (CHI), Antonio Buaiz (BRA), Marcelo Bispo (BRA).