FRANCE HELD TO DRAW BY 10-MAN URUGUAY
France and Uruguay contested a truly awful goalless draw in the second match of the 2010 World Cup at the Cape Town Stadium .
The result ensured that both of the opening day Group A fixtures ended in draws – but there was much more to savour in South Africa's earlier game against Mexico.
The match in Cape Town never really got going; instead of sparking into life, it deteriorated into a largely forgettable contest only briefly illuminated by the occasional moment of trickery and skill.
In a game of few chances, Uruguay came closest to scoring through a Diego Forlan shot that was saved in the opening half, while they finished the contest with 10 men after substitute Nicolas Lodeiro picked up two bookings.
France were arguably the better team and might have snatched the points with a free-kick from a promising position deep into injury-time, but substitute Thierry Henry's strike hit the wall.
Both teams had laboured through qualification, requiring play-offs to reach South Africa, and their lack of fluency was clear to see.
France, who recently switched to a 4-3-3 formation, lost to China in their final warm-up game and were too ponderous in possession against La Celeste, with a lack of understanding undermining their efforts.
This was encapsulated in one move when Abou Diaby, surprisingly recalled in favour of Florent Malouda amid suggestions of a training ground row with manager Raymond Domenech, played a superb through ball for Sidney Govou.
But striker Nicolas Anelka, who made way for Henry with 20 minutes left, intercepted the pass after returning from an offside position and a promising opening was completely wasted.
Franck Ribery was an early threat down the left and his low cross after seven minutes should have been converted by Govou, while playmaker Yoann Gourcuff had few opportunities to showcase his skills – although he almost caught Fernando Muslera out with a free-kick from a tight angle on 17 minutes.
France's holding midfielder Jeremy Toulalan was reduced to trying his luck from more than 35 yards, while Uruguay's Diego Lugano mystified his team-mates by shooting at goal from deep inside his own half.
Toulalan was booked for a heavy tackle on Alvaro Pereira after 68 minutes and locked horns with Lugano seconds later. Domenech came on to the pitch to try to calm the situation, but at least it was something to rouse the crowd, leading to a brief cacophony of vuvuzela sounds.
Forlan, who forced an excellent first-half save from Hugo Lloris after cutting inside and shooting from 20 yards, was impressive for Uruguay.
The Atletico Madrid striker was alive with craft and invention, but he wasted a decent opening with 20 minutes left, shooting wide from 16 yards after a decent lay-off from Luis Suarez.
Striker Suarez, with 49 goals in 48 games for Ajax last season, was all too frequently caught offside, while playmaker Ignacio Gonzalez was a peripheral figure.
Uruguay coach Javier Aguirre brought on the highly rated Lodeiro in place of Gonzalez shortly after the restart, and Domenech replaced Gourcuff with Malouda.
Lodeiro's only mark on the game was arguably made on the ankle of Bakari Sagna as the Uruguayan picked up his second booking with 10 minutes to go.
Henry almost produced a moment of late drama with a header that glanced across the face of goal and had an appeal for a handball against Mauricio Victorino turned down as Uruguay held on.
Uruguay http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/world_cup_2010/groups_and_teams/team/uruguay#squad 0-0 http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/world_cup_2010/groups_and_teams/team/france#squad France http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/world_cup_2010/groups_and_teams/team/uruguay#squad FT http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/world_cup_2010/groups_and_teams/team/france#squad
02 Lugano Captain Yellow card
06 Victorino Yellow card
15 Perez (Eguren, 87)
17 Arevalo Rios
18 Gonzalez (Lodeiro, 63 Yellow card Red card )
09 Suarez (Abreu, 73)
13 Evra Captain Yellow card
08 Gourcuff (Malouda, 75)
14 Toulalan Yellow card
07 Ribery Yellow card
10 Govou (Gignac, 85)
21 Anelka (Henry, 71)
21 Sebastian Fernandez
Venue: Green Point Stadium