Super Steed does it again

Saturday 25 May 2002

France's apparently unstoppable under-21 side moved one step closer to the European Championship after knocking out ten-man Switzerland in Basel on Saturday evening.

Once again it was Steed Malbranque who proved to be the star of the show as the young Fulham player put in another excellent performance.

The match was an evenly contested affair in the first half with a series of niggly fouls interrupting play. However, in the 41st minute, the referee saw enough and showed Swiss defender Stephan Keller his second yellow card.

That gave the French their breathing room. On 62 minutes, they broke the deadlock through the dangerous Malbranque.

After playing a delightful one-two, Steed produced a breathtaking effort to beat Swiss 'keeper Beney. He again had the ball in the net a few minutes later but he was unfortunately flagged for offside.

Steed's goal appeared to open the floodgates as chances started to flow from the French thereafter. On another day, the margin of victory could have been greater, but Olivier Sorlin's goal was enough to give the French a well-deserved 2-0 victory.

Despite a hectic Premiership baptism for Malbranque, he has become one of the stars of the tournament, playing a key role in France's progression.

The French will play the Czech Republic in the final.