France lose friendly to Argentina

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Javier Saviola scored the lone goal on Wednesday to help Argentina beat France 1-0 in a friendly.

Updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
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Javier Saviola scored the lone goal on Wednesday to help Argentina beat France 1-0 in a friendly. The FC Barcelona forward started and finished the play in the 15th minute, beating a makeshift defense that was missing regulars William Gallas and Lilian Thuram. Saviola picked up a loose ball after France goalkeeper Gregory Coupet made a tough save on a shot from Hernan Crespo, then scored his 11th international goal in his 36th appearance. David Trezeguet missed a good chance to level for France shortly after, but his shot was saved by Argentina goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri. "There wasn't much in it," France coach Raymond Domenech said. "We caused them problems. It was the final pass, the last gesture, that we were missing." After Saviola's goal, France responded with Franck Ribery shooting wide from 20 meters (yards), and then Abbondanzieri saved with his legs from Trezeguet's toe-poke. Tempers frayed shortly before halftime, leading to a heated exchange between defenders Gabriel Heinze and Willy Sagnol, who received a yellow card and was replaced by Francois Clerc at the interval. A quiet start to the second half abruptly changed in the 55th when Crespo hit a hard shot from outside the penalty area which surprised Coupet, and he did well to punch clear. Switching wings regularly, Ribery looked like France's biggest threat, but Argentina looked dangerous on the counter and Julien Escude stopped Saviola's shot in the 61st. "It was harder in the first half on the right," Ribery said. "It was better in the second half. We came up against a good Argentina team." Escude was making only his second appearance and was paired with Sebastien Squillaci at the center of France's inexperienced defense. Both played steadily and earned praise from Domenech. "I think it was a satisfaction of the match, that's for sure," Domenech said. Domenech brought on Sidney Govou at the start of the second half to supplement the attack, and replaced Trezeguet with Nicolas Anelka for the final 20 minutes. Anelka looked lively and was at the center of some threatening moves, but Les Bleus failed to muster another shot on target after Trezeguet's effort.

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