After leading France to a crucial victory in their final first-round match against Togo, Patrick Vieira was once again the hero for Raymond Domenech's side in the Round of 16.
Vieira was named Man of the Match tonight by the FIFA Technical Study Group.
He made the pass that led to France's first-half equaliser and scored their decisive second goal seven minutes from the end in the 3-1 win over Spain in Hanover.
"Vieira did extremely well in the midfield supporting France not only in defense, but also in the attack," said FIFA Technical Study Group member Kwok Ka-Ming.
"And finally he scored the winning goal, which was definitive for the match. That's why he deserves to be the Man of the Match."
The Juventus man, known for his ability to contribute in both attack and defence, lived up to all expectations in this match. He was a constant nuisance to a very skilful Spanish midfield that knocked the ball around with their usual flair but only rarely managed to create clear chances.
He also made his mark in the attacking third. In the 41st minute, with Spain looking comfortable with a 1-0 lead from David Villa's spot-kick, Vieira unlocked the Spanish defense with a one-two that sent Frank Ribery free to round goalkeeper Iker Casillas and finish into an empty net.
Then with the score deadlocked in the 83rd minute, Vieira was in the right place as a Zinedine Zidane free-kick deflected off a Spanish defender and came right to him at the back post, where he finished with a header from close range.
The blend of strength and finesse with which Vieira has been blessed constitutes a considerable asset for any team he represents. Barely used at the FIFA World Cup France 1998, he was central to France's triumph two years later at UEFA Euro 2000.
Vieira started out in the French championship with Cannes, where he honed his considerable defensive attributes. Before long, he was snapped up by AC Milan.
After making just two first-team appearances for the Rossoneri, he moved on to the Gunners of Arsenal, where he quickly developed into one of the top players in the world. During the 1997/98 season, he won the English league and cup double, an achievement he would repeat in 2001/02.
His performances for the France team, particularly at Euro 2000, rapidly established him as a key player for his country and drew admiring glances from Europe's leading clubs.
With typical humility, Vieira did not hesitate to give up his captaincy of the national team after the return of Zinedine Zidane. But in the eyes of all concerned, he remains one of the essential cogs in Domenech's machine. Having spent France 98 on the bench and Korea/Japan 2002 in anguish, Vieira intends to make Germany 2006 his FIFA World Cup.