Arsenal At The World Cup #3: Emmanuel Petit v Brazil 1998
France ’98. Michael Owen’s goal. David Beckham’s sending off. Sol Campbell’s wrongly ruled out goal. Glenn Hoddle’s stubborn and flawed management. English memories of the tournament are not fond.
For the hosts France, it was a different matter. Their squad contained Vieira and Petit, the centre of the Arsenal midfield as well as international colleagues Henry and Pires who would soon become team-mates at club level.
Petit played in a couple of the group matches but was not recalled to the starting line-up until the semi-final against Croatia. France emerged victorious despite falling a goal behind early in the second half. Petit’s performance was enough for him to be named in the starting line-up for the final.
1998 is remembered as much for the pre-Final medical ailment of Ronaldo as it is France deservedly winning the competition. Conspiracy theorists the world over will continue to speculate that foul play was afoot in the case of the Brazilian striker’s fit.
Zidane put the hosts in the driving seat with two first half goals but deep into injury time at the end of the match, Vieira who had come on as a second half substitute, swept the ball into the path of Petit, the net bulging as a French counter-attack received the reward it deserved. Scored in the Stade de France, made in Arsenal…