France drinks from Cup as the champion of soccer Country celebrates after toppling Brazil in stunning final, 3-0


SAINT-DENIS, France - Nearly 70 years after a Frenchman created the World Cup, his countrymen finally own it.

Vive la France, champions of soccer after a stunning, 3-0 rout of mighty Brazil last night. Jules Rimet, who came up with the idea for a world championship in this most popular of sports, would have loved it.

"We won the final because we wanted it the most," French coach Aime Jacquet said. "It was the result of hard work. There was good will and friendship between all of us."

Zinedine Zidane scored twice on headers in the first half - his first goals of a tournament he began by getting suspended for two games. Fabien Barthez, the fierce-looking, baldheaded goalkeeper, topped off a tournament in which he allowed just two goals by shutting out four-time champion Brazil.

The victory touched off wild celebrations in space-age Stade de France and throughout a nation that rarely has been a sports power. By the time Emmanuel Petit made it 3-0 in the final seconds, the stands were rocking with song and cheers. And the streets were mobbed in a French festival that might last, well, until the next World Cup.

After the final whistle, French players stormed the field and Barthez knelt in front of his net, tears flowing.

"It's all that we expected. It's incredible. There are no words," Zidane said.

Pub Date: 7/13/98

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