HANOVER, June 27 (Reuters): Late goals from Patrick Vieira and Zinedine Zidane gave France a 3-1 win over Spain in the World Cup second round on Tuesday.
Vieira headed in at the far post in the 83rd minute after a free kick had been deflected towards his own goal by Spain's Xabi Alonso. Vieira's header flicked off Spain's Sergio Ramos on its way into the net.
Zidane finished things off in style in stoppage time, beating goalkeeper Iker Casillas after a swift counterattack.
France now meet Brazil in the quarter-finals in Frankfurt on Saturday, a repeat of the 1998 final won by the French.
France, written off by many as too old, came back from a goal down.
Coach Raymond Domenech was full of praise for his team.
"It was very tough for the players. It was a remarkable match in every way. We may have a team of old men but we know how to be patient," said Domenech.
"Younger people run out of breath. There's something exceptional waiting for us, unique emotions," he added.
Spain had opened the scoring on 28 minutes, striker David Villa firing home from a penalty after Pablo Ibanez had been fouled by Lilian Thuram.
France reacted in style four minutes from halftime.
Lively winger Franck Ribery raced on to a fine through ball from Vieira and rounded keeper Casillas to score his first goal for France with a cool finish.
Spain, eager to shake off their tag as under-achievers and to erase memories of their last competitive meeting with France, a 2-1 defeat in the quarter-finals of Euro 2000, looked fresher and more imaginative throughout the first half.
After a cautious start from both sides, Spain were the first to threaten when left back Mariano Pernia curled a free kick just over the left upright from 25 metres on nine minutes.
France, relying on their trademark, watertight back four, showed little initiative up from until both Ribery and Vieira just failed to connect with a low Thierry Henry cross midway through the half.
France gradually took control of the game in the second half. They went close in the 52nd minute when a chipped volley by Florent Malouda enabled Casillas to show his class with a spectacular one-handed save.
Spanish coach Luis Aragones was disappointed about a free kick awarded to France which led to the second goal. Referee Roberto Rosetti blew for a foul when Henry went down after a challenge by Spanish defender Carles Puyol.
"I think their second goal came from a free kick that wasn't a foul and we were punished by a refereeing error," he said.