MUNICH, Germany – One more time, Zinedine Zidane stepped up to the penalty spot, 12 yards from another shot at glory for himself and France.
Dripping with sweat, Zidane converted the kick in the 33rd minute after Ricardo Carvalho was whistled for a foul on Thierry Henry, giving the French a 1-0 victory over Portugal on Wednesday night and a berth in the World Cup final.
France, which was supposed to be soccer's over-the-hill gang, meets Italy at Berlin on Sunday night, in a matchup of blue — France's Les Bleus vs. the Italian Azzurri.
The French will be making just their second ever appearance in a World Cup final — the other was their famous 2-0 victory at home over Brazil in 1998.
With just a few minutes to go, French fans in one corner of the stadium started singing "La Marseillaise," the French anthem, and followed with chants of "Allez Les Bleus!"
France and Italy have a long history of tricolored battles.
The French rallied to defeat Italy 2-1 in the 2000 Euro final when Sylvain Wiltord scored with 30 seconds left in second-half injury time and David Trezeguet got a goal 13 minutes into sudden-death extra time. France also beat the Italians on penalty kicks in the 1998 World Cup quarterfinals.
Unbeaten in nine straight games since a March 1 exhibition loss against Slovakia, France started the World Cup slowly with ties against Switzerland and South Korea before beating Togo to get to the knockout phase. The French then defeated Spain and defending champion Brazil to reach the semifinals.
Portugal, a 20-1 shot last December, advanced to the World Cup semifinals for just the second time. Eusebio, the hero of Portugal's 1966 run, was on hand as was former French captain Michel Platini, considered by many his nation's greatest player.
France's win ended Portugal's 19-game unbeaten streak since a February 2005 exhibition loss at Ireland and coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's 12-game undefeated string in World Cup matches. France also defeated Portugal in the semifinals of the 1984 and 2000 European Championships.