France were crowned champions of the inaugural Betsafe Star Sixes champions following a 2-1 win over Denmark in the Final at London’s O2 Arena.
Robert Pires’side, who had seen off Spain 5-2 in the semi-finals, wrapped up their title with their narrow victory over the tournament surprise package, Denmark.
Ludovic Giuly opened the scoring for France before Daniel Jensen had equalised for the Danes. But with the game closing in on penalties, former Bolton Wanderers man Youri Djorkaeff struck a winner to give France the silverware.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Pires said. “It’s always very important to do well whenever you put the French shirt on. It was a very tough game.
“Denmark played very well, so we’re very happy to win the tournament.”
Denmark captain Stig Tofting, another ex-Bolton man, added: “Of course if you told us we would finish runners-up before the tournament we would have been happy, but it’s always disappointing to lose. Congratulations to France.
The third-placed play-off was a one-sided affair, with Spain romping to an 11-3 victory over Gilberto Silva’s Brazil, who had suffered an unexpected 4-2 defeat to Denmark in the other semi-final.
Denmark’s Chris Sorenson was voted star of the tournament while Spain’s Michel Salgado was presented with the top scorer award after netting nine times.
SPAIN 2 (Mendieta, Luis Garcis)
FRANCE 5 (Giuly 3, Candela, Djorkaeff
BRAZIL 2 (Elano 2)
DENMARK 4 (Jorgensen 2, Norregaard, Junker)
SPAIN 11 (Salgado 3, Morientes 4, Capdevila 2, Luis Garcia, Marchena)
BRAZIL 3 (Amaral, Baptista, Djalminha)
FRANCE 2 (Giuly, Djorkaeff)
DENMARK 1 (Jensen)
France 3 (Pires, Giuly, Abidal)
Portugal 2 (Deco, Postiga)
Robert Pires got night two off to a flyer with a well-taken opener for France. The skipper tucking in from the left past Vitor Baia. Ludovic Giuly then doubled their lead, finding the top corner on the run, before Eric Abidal’s dummy sent Baia to the ground and the ex-Barcelona man slotted home to make it three. Deco’s screamer was a perfect response for Portugal and when Helder Postiga grabbed a second the comeback looked on, but it was just a bit too late for the Portuguese and it was France who took the points.
Denmark 2 (Jorgensen, Sorensen)
Germany 2 (Wosz 2)
Underdogs Denmark have been the tournament’s surprise package so far, and their solid, tireless work-rate helped them into a two-goal lead against Germany. Martin Jorgensen steered in from close-range giving Timo Hildebrand little chance in between the sticks, before Chris Sorensen fired home from distance. But in the closing stages Germany rallied, and striker Dariusz Wosz netted a late double to salvage a point for Michael Ballack’s boys.
Brazil 7 (Baptista 3, Elano, Djalminha, Rivaldo, Juninho)
Brazil ran out comfortable winners in their second match at Star Sixes and it was Julio Baptista who did most of the damage. The former Arsenal forward bagged three, the pick of which was his second that he struck like a rocket into the top corner from just inside the China half. Ex-Manchester City midfielder Elano also scored a fine goal, bending into the roof of the net, while Djalminha’s shot on the turn was well-taken. Rivaldo and Juninho both popped up from close-range in the last minute to give the Samba Boys an easy three points.
Italy 2 (Del Piero, Fiore)
Nigeria 1 (Yakubu)
Italy captain Alessandro Del Piero opened his Star Sixes account early on in this game, latching on to a spillage from Nigeria keeper Peter Rufai to tap home. Stefano Fiore made it two, sliding one inside the post for the Azzurri, but ex-Portsmouth striker Yakubu made it a nervy final few minutes after a deft volley past Marco Amelia reduced the arrears. Italy, though, held on for the points.
Spain 2 (Morientes, Salgado)
Mexico 1 (Borgetti)
It took all of ten minutes for this tight affair to finally get its first goal, and it was a nice back flick from former Bolton Wanderers man Jared Borgetti that broke the deadlock. The game looked to be going Mexico’s way as they kept Spain out, but two very late goals turned things around. Ex-Liverpool and Real Madrid frontman Fernando Morientes levelled matters with a crisp finish from inside the area, then, with the last kick of the game, Michel Salgado drilled low past Erubey Cabuto to clinch victory and keep Spain in charge of Group A.
England 3 (Owen 2 (1 pen), Gerrard)
Scotland 1 (Burchill)
It was the one everybody had been waiting for and when the Auld Enemy came together it did not disappoint. England took the lead through Michael Owen after Rab Douglas had tripped the striker inside the area. The first penalty of Star Sixes had to be taken twice, the first time Owen took too many steps. But he made no mistake with the second attempt as England went in front. The former Liverpool and Manchester United hitman made it two soon after, but Mark Burchill got Scotland back in the game with his second of the tournament. However, when Steven Gerrard had a chance in the closing stages, he wasn’t going to miss, and lashed into the net to give Douglas no chance and England the three points.
England 1 (Owen)
Spain 4 (Luis Garcia 2, Alfonso Perez, Joan Capdevila)
England got off to a flyer when Michael Owen scored the first goal in Star Sixes history, but it was all downhill after that as Spain came from behind with the help of brace from another former Liverpool striker, Luis Garcia.
Steven Gerrard’s team made a dream start to the inaugural tournament at The O2 when Owen hammered home from close range with barely two minutes on the clock. But Garcia equalised soon afterwards, and made it 2-1 shortly after the halfway point. A tap-in from Alfonso and another late strike from Capdevila made it look comfortable for Spain and put them in control of Group A.
MEXICO 1 (Hernandez)
SCOTLAND 3 (Donnelly, Ferguson, Burchill)
Scotland kicked off their Star Sixes campaign with an impressive 3-1 victory over Group A rivals Mexico.
The Tartan Army took the lead early on through Simon Donnelly, before Barry Ferguson doubled their advantage with a stunning goal.
The midfielder sold the goalkeeper with a lovely dummy before dinking the ball over him with an audacious chip.
That made it 2-0 and Scotland were later three to the good as Mark Burchill put the game beyond doubt, finishing off a brilliant passing move.
Mexico did pull a goal back when Luis Hernandez tapped home from close range – but it proved to be too little, too late. The only negative for Scotland was the loss of Christian Dailly with a broken collarbone.
DENMARK 6 (Junker 3, Sorensen 2, Beckmann)
PORTUGAL 4 (Postiga 3, Maniche)
Denmark won a ten-goal thriller against Portugal as they began their quest to be Star Sixes champions with a bang.
Both of the Group C sides were eager to pick up an early win as they knew matches against heavyweights France and Germany lay ahead.
In the end it proved to be a game of hat-tricks as both Mads Junker of Denmark and Portugal’s Helder Postiga found the net three times.
However, Junker’s hat-trick was decisive as it helped Denmark secure a valuable 6-4 victory as they continue their fight to make the knockout stages of Star Sixes.
GERMANY 4 (Kuranyi 2, Ballack, Gaudino)
FRANCE 3 (Nowotny og, Candela, Giuly)
Maurizio Gaudino scored the winning goal as Germany defeated France 4-3 in their opening match of Star Sixes.
After watching fellow Group C side Denmark defeat Portugal 6-4, both teams knew they had to lay down a marker in their match.
France took the lead early on through a Jens Nowotny own-goal, but they were soon behind as Kevin Kuranyi and Michael Ballack found the net.
In an end-to-end game, France were then ahead courtesy of Vincent Candela and Ludovic Giuly’s strikes and it looked as though they would claim the win.
But then Kuranyi bagged his second of the night before Gaudino secured Germany the three points.
Nigeria 3 (Yakubu 2 ,Amokachi)
China 2 (Peng 2)
Nigeria overcame a late comeback from the Chinese to take all three points after a Yakubu double and delicious goal from Daniel Amokachi. The former Everton striker scored what turned out to be the winner with a delicate dink over goalkeeper Li Wei, before leaping over the advertising boards and celebrating with the noisy crowd.
Yakubu had given the Super Eagles a two-goal lead after five minutes, and Nigeria looked to be cruising to victory, with Jay-Jay Okocha showing his full range of tricks and flicks. But Peng Wei Jun scored two of his own in the closing stages to make it tense before Nigeria triumphed.
Brazil 2 (Juninho, Belletti)
Italy 1 (Delvecchio)
The Brazilians showed their samba style as they saw off Italy in the final game of the opening day, which lived up fully to expectations.
A huge crowd packed out The O2 and many turned up to see if Rivaldo, Robert Carlos and Juninho still had the magic that made them world stars not so long ago. And the answer was a convincing ‘Yes’. Brazil showed all their skills in overcoming a tough Italy side. Juninho, so often a little magician for Middlesbrough, opened the scoring as he found a sliver of space and smashed the ball past Marco Amelia. But Marco Delvecchio equalised with an equally brilliant goal, before former Barcelona full-back Juliano Belletti, who broke Arsenal hearts in the 2006 Champions League final, struck again with a long-range effort to seal Brazil’s first win.