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France held goalless by Romania
June 09, 2008 23:37 IST
Last Updated: June 10, 2008 01:11 IST
The 2006 World Cup runners-up, who will also face the Netherlands and world champions Italy [Images] in what is seen as the toughest group of the tournament, looked nervous and failed to breach a tight Romania defence.
France started the match at the Letzigrund stadium without striker Thierry Henry [Images], who received a knock in a warm-up game, and midfielder and captain Patrick Vieira, sidelined by a thigh injury.
The first 45 minutes featured few highlights with Romania concentrating on defending and France dominating play but creating few clear chances.
Nicolas Anelka, playing in place of Henry, shot just wide on nine minutes and headed the ball over the bar after the half-hour mark in two of France's few threatening moves.
France had another chance on 17 minutes, Romania keeper Bogdan Lobont rushing out to deny Florent Malouda before Anelka fired wide with an angled shot from the edge of the box.
Romania also showed signs of nerves, collecting three yellow cards in the first half, but stood firm at the back to keep alive their chances of making the quarter-finals.
The second half started in more promising fashion for France with Malouda twisting his way past two defenders and racing into the box to shoot just wide with an angled shot.
The pressure was back on Romania when striker Karim Benzema fired straight at Lobont after collecting a Franck Ribery cross shortly before the hour.
Romania kept their cool, though, demonstrating how they had topped their qualifying group ahead of the Netherlands and showing their determination to give their group rivals a hard time.
France, looking for the right balance between ageing stalwarts and exciting newcomers, need to step up a gear in their next outings if they are to survive the group stage.
Complete Coverage: Euro 2008