BERLIN: France defeated Spain 3-1 at the World Cup on Tuesday to set up a quarter-final clash with champions Brazil, whose striker Ronaldo became the tournament's all-time top scorer in a victory over Ghana.
France, branded too old by some critics, hit back in style after going behind to a David Villa penalty in the first half of their second round match with a young Spain side in Hanover.
Midfielder Franck Ribery cancelled out Spain's advantage before the break, Patrick Vieira gave France the lead in the 83rd minute and captain Zinedine Zidane made sure of the victory with a classy strike in stoppage time.
"We may have a team of old men but we know how to be patient," said France coach Raymond Domenech.
"Younger people run out of breath."
France's match with Brazil, who defeated debutants Ghana 3-0 in Dortmund, will reunite the two sides who contested the 1998 final in Paris, won by the home nation.
"France versus Brazil - that's a nice memory," said Zidane, the 34-year-old midfielder who inspired France eight years ago and scored two goals in the final.
"The adventure continues. We are all delighted to go through," said Zidane, who retires after this World Cup.
Ronaldo was also the centre of attention eight years ago, when he was hit by a mystery illness hours before the final. He played poorly and the episode was never fully explained.
Despite accusations that he is overweight and another illness scare earlier in this tournament, he was at his brilliant best when he scored his record-breaking 15th World Cup goal in the match against Ghana.
He latched on to a through pass from midfielder Kaka, stepped over the ball as he bore down on Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingston and finished off with his right foot.
The fifth minute strike broke German Gerd Mueller's record of 14 World Cup goals, which Ronaldo equalled earlier in the tournament. Mueller scored his World Cup goals in 1970 and 1974.
"I'm happy to have broken this record, for seven World Cups it has not been broken," Ronaldo said.
"But let's not forget our main objective is to reach the final."
Ronaldo's strike partner Adriano added a second in first-half injury time amid protests from Ghana who claimed he was offside. Midfielder Ze Roberto scored the last in the 84th minute when he raced through a static Ghanian defence.
Despite being classed as rank outsiders and missing suspended midfielder Michael Essien, Ghana gave Brazil a real run for their money and were unlucky not to score.
Ghana's Serbian coach Ratomir Dujkovic was sent from the dug-out after the first half for protesting to Slovakian referee Lubos Michel about Adriano's close-range strike.
"I said it would be better for us if he put on a yellow jersey," he told reporters after the game.
"I'm very proud of our players, they fought from first minute of the first match to last minute today."
Ghana also had striker Asamoah Gyan sent off in the 81st minute when he collected his second yellow card for a dive.
The defeat prompted bitter complaints about the referee in the West African nation, where people gathered to watch the match waving flags, blowing whistles and wearing hats, shirts and dresses in the national colours of red, yellow and green.
"They have done well but we expected more than this. We play better than Brazil. They have totally robbed us," Abdul Aziz, a 28-year-old architect, said in the capital Accra.
Source: China Daily