French frustrated by Uruguay
France were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw by Uruguay in a largely uneventful friendly international at the Stade de France on Wednesday. Despite enjoying long spells of possession the home side found themselves frustrated by the visitors' defence, with a lively second-half cameo by debutant striker Steve Savidan one of few consolations.
The result - and a less than inspiring performance - will provide plenty of food for thought for Les Bleus coach Raymond Domenech, who has presided over an indifferent start to France's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying campaign. France were boosted by the return of captain Patrick Vieira after a nine-month absence through injury, but it was Uruguay who looked more threatening in the game's early stages.
Visiting skipper Diego Lugano directed a header onto the roof of the French net from Diego Forlan's inswinging free-kick in the 10th minute, with Forlan himself flashing a header over the bar moments later. Nicolas Anelka threatened to spark France into life with a header that passed just wide of the far post from Franck Ribery's right-wing centre after 16 minutes, before the visitors were almost gifted the lead when Cristian Rodriguez seized on a loose touch from Philippe Mexes but sliced his shot wide.
Young Ajax striker Luis Suarez caught the eye with an acrobatic volley that flew well wide of French debutant Hugo Lloris's goal, with Vieira then deftly bringing down a high ball inside the Uruguay area and crashing the ball over the bar.
The French fans were given something to cheer about at half-time when 30-year-old former binman Savidan came on in place of Anelka to make his debut. The Caen forward had a shot tipped wide of the post by Fabian Carini after eight minutes of the second period and he delighted the crowd with an overhead bicycle kick that was narrowly off-target from a Rod Fanni throw-in just after the hour mark.
Gradually the visitors were being penned back, with Alvaro Pereira forced to hook clear a dangerous free-kick from Yoann Gourcuff before Savidan attempted another eye-catching volley that narrowly eluded Thierry Henry at the back post. Patrice Evra was forced to hack a downward header from Carlos Adrian Valdez off the French line in the game's closing stages, before Jeremy Toulalan drove a rasping effort over the crossbar from the cusp of the Uruguay area with two minutes remaining.
France's next game is a friendly against Argentina in February, before their qualifying campaign resumes against Lithuania at the end of March.