France held to scoreless draw by Switzerland

28th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 26 (AFP) - Former world champions France dropped potentially precious points in their entertaining World Cup 2006 qualifier with group four rivals Switzerland which ended in a scoreless 0-0 draw here on Saturday.

PARIS, March 26 (AFP) - Former world champions France dropped potentially precious points in their entertaining World Cup 2006 qualifier with group four rivals Switzerland which ended in a scoreless 0-0 draw here on Saturday.

France, who were playing without the still unfit Thierry Henry, missed a series of golden chances in a match which they should have won easily. However the statistics will show they have still not won any of their group matches at home so far, and they stay in second in the group after Israel held group leaders Ireland to a 1-1 draw in Tel Aviv.

"It's always disappointing not to win particularly when you have numerous chances to score," said France coach Raymond Domenech.

"But the battle continues, it's still all to play for in the group.

"The Swiss showed that they no longer have any complexes. I thought time and again that we would do it but we lacked precision.

"The away matches will make the difference and we have three awaiting us."

Swiss coach Koebi Kuhn was happy despite their third draw in four games.

"I'm happy with my young players. We had chances in the first half but this evening I think that the goalkeeping on both sides was of a very, very high level.

"We still have hope of qualifying. It's all to play for us against France at home and in Dublin against Ireland. These will be key games for us."

Henry's presence was perhaps missed as the hosts saw chance after chance go amiss but by the end of the first half France were lucky not to be a goal down as Switzerland forced two good saves from Fabien Barthez.

Barthez, who only days ago announced he would quit football after the end of next season, had to dive low to his left to collect a low ball after a deep cross aimed at Swiss midfielder Ricardo Cabanas had caused a mix-up in the France defence.

Moments later he helped avoid a potentially disastrous goal just before half time as a delightful short pass to Cabanas allowed the midfielder to hit a close-range shot which forced another dive from the shaven-headed keeper.

It started out a lot differently for Domench's men, who in the opening minutes wasted no time in showing their intentions with a number of surging runs down the wing, notably from Barcelona's Ludovic Giuly and AC Milan's Vikash Dhorasoo.

After a close-range shot from Swiss captain Johann Vogel had forced a two-handed block from Barthez and given the hosts a brief scare, France went on the rampage.

Giuly's pace soon left him with a one-on-one with Pascal Zuberbuehler in the ninth minute but the Swiss keeper held well.

After a quarter hour of frantic play the game settled into a more manageable rhythm for the visitors, although France were not quite finished.

A well-struck corner by Marseille forward Benoit Pedretti in the 21st minute was punched out by Zuberbuehler, and Giuly picked up the rebound only to see his shot go out for another corner.

This time Patrick Vieria found the opening after Vogel had headed the corner out, but the Arsenal midfielder twice saw his shot at goal blocked, his second effort flying agonisingly wide.

Barely four minutes later David Trezeguet bore down on goal, but with only Zuberbuehler to beat the Juventus striker's low shot went straight to the Swiss.

The packed Stade de France stadium could not quite believe the sheer number of missed chances, but there was more to come.

Sylvain Wiltord benefited from a block by Swiss defender Patrick Muller after a cross from Willy Sagnol, but the Lyon forward also hit his low shot straight at Zuberbuehler.

After the interval Wiltord's bad luck in front of goal continued.

Four minutes after the restart he was in alone on Zuberbuehler, but the keeper came out well to block Wiltord's mid-air effort.

And on 53 minutes Wiltord spurned an even better chance. Dhorasoo escaped his marker on the left wing and threaded a perfect ball through to Wiltord, whose first-time shot had beaten the Swiss keeper but sailed inches wide of his left hand post.

Dhorasoo was soon replaced by Camel Meriem on the hour mark and he soon won a free kick on the edge of the Swiss area. Pedretti struck the ball well, but his curling effort went over the defensive wall and inches over the crossbar.

With the Swiss stubbornly holding on, the wind appeared to vanish from France's sails - and fortune blew another hole in them when Trezeguet missed the chance of the match in the 77th minute.

A superb pass from Wiltord from the left edge of the area found the Juventus striker in alone in front of goal, but with only Zuberbuehler to beat from six yards the Frenchman hit the ball straight into his hands.

With the clock ticking down Wiltord was replaced by Sidney Govou, but the Lyon striker had little time to make amends for his compatriots' series of missed chances.


Subject: French News

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