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Euro 2008

France and Romania share bore draw

  • Story Highlights
  • France and Romania share 0-0 draw in opening Euro 2008 Group C match
  • Goal chances are few and far between in a dour encounter played in Zurich
  • France captain Patrick Vieira is passed fit to continue in the tournament
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(CNN) -- France lacked the guile to break down a stubborn Romania side as a turgid Euro 2008 Group C opener finished goalless in Zurich.

France midfielder Claude Makelele (right) is challenged by Razvan Cocis of Romania during their 0-0 draw.

The so-called 'Group of Death' got off to a timid start at the Letzigrund, with the French unable to find a way past an opposition who picked up a point they clearly came for.

Clear-cut chances were at a premium, France pair Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda having the best of them, as defences came out on top in a match to forget for the strikers.

Romania coach Victor Piturca claimed before the game that it would be "unbelievable" if his team were to beat the French -- and it soon became obvious they had set out to nick a draw, with their negative tactics making for a dull first-half.

France bossed possession in the opening 45 minutes but did precious little with it and neither goalkeeper was seriously tested in the opening 20 minutes, although Romania's Bogdan Lobont was forced to race out to prevent Malouda having a clean run on goal.

Both teams could only muster long-range efforts, Karim Benzema for the French, and Adrian Mutu and Daniel Niculae for Romania, but none of them were on target.

The best chance of the half fell to Anelka, who reacted quickest to a left-wing cross from Franck Ribery but could only loop a weak header over the crossbar.

Benzema shot weakly at Lobont from seven meters at the end of the half as Ribery finally came to life on the right flank.

Malouda almost broke the deadlock when his weaving run ended in an angled shot that flew just wide early in the second half.

Benzema then drew a decent save out of Lobont after being fed by Ribery 12 meters out but Romania, who remained on the defensive, were holding firm with 30 minutes left -- without ever looking dangerous at the other end.

It took France coach Raymond Domenech 70 minutes to make his first substitution, Bafetimbi Gomis replacing Anelka. Arsenal-bound playmaker Samir Nasri also came on for the final 15 minutes but it changed nothing.

Romania's fans were the ones cheering at the final whistle, despite France goalkeeper Gregory Coupet leaving the field having hardly touched the ball.

"We were missing something today, now it leaves us with two matches to take six points," said France coach Raymond Domenech.

"I am neither pessimistic or optimistic. We were playing against a team that didn't want to play, just wanted a draw. We controlled the match without making many chances."

However, Domenech did receive a boost earlier in the day when captain Patrick Vieira was declared fit to remain with the squad after recovering from a left thigh injury.

AC Milan new boy Mathieu Flamini -- who had been called up as a replacement for Vieira -- will now leave the camp.

Vieira suffered the injury just over a week ago at a training session.

The 31-year-old 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winning midfielder, who had an injury racked season with his club Inter Milan, did not take part in any of the three warm-up amtches for Euro 2008.

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