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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

France Hails Euro 2000 Triumph




PARIS -- France exploded with joy after its team's thrilling 2-1 triumph over Italy, with hundreds of thousands of fans flooding the streets of Paris and other towns to the sound of car horns and fireworks.


Between 400,000 and 500,000 revelers thronged the Paris Champs Elysees boulevard by midnight local time, according to police and television estimates, dancing, singing and embracing as flares lit the street in a blaze of blue, red and white - the national colors.


As most of the revelers dispersed peacefully in the early hours of Monday, 16 policemen were injured in clashes with a group of bottle-flinging stragglers, police said. Several cars and shopfronts were damaged in the Champs Elysee area.


"About 400 youths threw missiles at the police forces and members of the Red Cross," a police spokesman said.


Two years ago, France's World Cup final victory over Brazil sparked an an all-night party with roughly a million people on the same tree-lined avenue.


Even if the crowd was smaller this time, they were relieved and delighted that France had come from behind to beat Italy and score a historic double by winning Euro 2000.


"It's incredible. We were really scared at one stage and that makes it even better," said a reveler named Philippe as he strutted down the Champs.


"It's tough on the Italians. I honestly didn't think the Blues [the French] were going to make the comeback," said Larbi, who traveled from Tunisia after regretting he had not done the same for the World Cup in Paris in August 1998.


Late into the night, cheerful crowds chanted "We are the champions" in towns throughout France such as the soccer-mad southern port town of Marseille and Bricquebec in Normandy, where French team coach Roger Lemerre played as a child.


Cars sped through the capital with horns blaring, flags and supporters hanging out of the windows.


At one end of the Champs Elysees, which the French love to describe as "the most beautiful avenue in the world," the imposing Arc de Triomphe monument was lit up with a big neon Merci for the winners.


"This is a joy, once again two years on," Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said on French television from the Dutch town of Rotterdam, where the final took place.


"What a start to the French presidency of the European Union," he added. France took over the presidency of the 15-nation European Union for six months Saturday.


President Jacques Chirac also rushed to the television cameras.


"We've lived an incredible, unique, adventure with the French team. I'm proud for France and proud for the French," Chirac said on television.