Football: Argentina wins over France

8th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 7, 2007 (AFP) - A moment of brilliance from Javier Saviola helped Argentina to a 1-0 win over World Cup finalists France in an international friendly at the Stade de France here Wednesday.

PARIS, Feb 7, 2007 (AFP) - A moment of brilliance from Javier Saviola helped Argentina to a 1-0 win over World Cup finalists France in an international friendly at the Stade de France here Wednesday.

Saviola shone throughout a far-from-thrilling encounter fought out largely in midfield and his delicate touch was decisive in the 15th minute.

The 25-year-old Barcelona player played a wonderful one-two down the right flank with Inter Milan midfielder Nicolas Cambiasso, a deft right-footed backflick sending the ball through a defender's legs.

From the return ball, Hernan Crespo punched a shot at France goalkeeper Gregory Coupet who could only fend the ball away with his legs directly at the feet of a fast-advancing Saviola, who made no mistake in burying the ball in the back of the net with a powerful left-footed shot.France pushed for an equaliser but the Argentina defence was well marshalled by captain Roberto Ayala, winning his 107th cap - beating the Argentinian record held by Diego Simeone.

The 33-year-old, who will move from Valencia to Spanish rivals Villarreal at the season's end on a three-year contract, was captaining Argentina for the 57th time, just one short of Diego Maradona's record.

France coach Raymond Domenech said the result had let him frustrated.

"We had everything: there was desire, great movement, great build-up but our last touch was missing," he said.

The hosts' captain Patrick Vieira agreed: "They're a stubborn team and technically much stronger than most teams we've played but it was a good match.

"We are a little disappointed with the result but in the whole there were some good things."

Argentina, knocked out on penalties by World Cup hosts Germany in the quarter-finals of last year's tournament, soaked up massive French pressure throughout the game.

In 13th minute, Florent Malouda span away from defender beautifully but his shot lacked power and drifted wide of the right upright.

France pushed forward in search of the equaliser after Saviola's goal and Franck Ribery should have done better with his full volley from a Malouda cross, his shot well hit but wide of the Argentine goal.

But the South Americans, all of whom play their club football in European leagues, were quick to close down the French in midfield.

With five mintues of the first-half to play, David Trezeguet, who has an Argentinian mother, should have scored after Fernando Gago mishit a clearance and left the Frenchman in a sliding one-one-one with keeper Roberto Abbondanzieri.

Crespo forced Coupet into a sharp save in the 55th minute with a well-hit half-volley, and Ribery blazed just left of the Argentine goal after a sweet lay-off by Henry three minutes later.

France coach Raymond Domenech brought on Bolton striker Nicolas Anelka for the ineffectual Trezeguet with 20 minutes to play but to no effect as Ayala and his team-mates stood firm.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Football

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