France v Romania, 09 June 2008

Score0-0
RefereeManuel Enrique Mejuto Gonzalez
CompetitionUEFA European Championship Finals Group C
VenueLetzigrund, Zurich
Attendance30,585
Kick-Off: 6.00pm local Assistant referees: Juan Carlos Yuste Jiménez (Spain) Jesús Calvo Guadamuro (Spain) Fourth official: Olegário Benquerença (Portugal) Man of the Match: Claude Makelele (France Romania made a promising start to their UEFA EURO 2008 campaign, holding one of the tournament favourites, France, to a goalless draw at the Letzigrund Stadion in Group C. Victor Piţurcă's side, appearing in their first major finals for eight years, restricted Les Bleus to a handful of half-chances as the two-time European champions struggled to impose their quality on proceedings. Nicolas Anelka was guilty of missing the game's clearest opportunity when he headed Franck Ribéry's cross over in the first half, but with Thierry Henry confined to the substitutes' bench, Raymond Domenech's men lacked a cutting edge and rarely put their well-organised opponents in serious difficulty. These teams boasted two of the meanest defensive records in qualifying and from the opening exchanges it was obvious the contest would be tight. France monopolised possession early on yet rarely threatened Bogdan Lobonţ's goal as Mirel Rădoi, Răzvan Cociş and Cristian Chivu tenaciously closed down space in front of their back four. With Henry still not fully fit, Anelka and Karim Benzema started in attack for the first time, and both fired in wayward shots during a cagey first ten minutes. Daniel Niculae had been given the task of leading Romania's front line on his own and succeeded in posing problems to Lilian Thuram and William Gallas. On 16 minutes the striker, who plays in France with AJ Auxerre, might have done better than drag his shot wide after Adrian Mutu's deft knockdown. The response was instant, Claude Makelele releasing Florent Malouda through the middle, only for Lobonţ to sprint off his line and deny the winger. That would prove the only time the pacy France forwards got in behind Romania's canny defenders. Ribéry and Benzema began interchanging positions without much joy, although the FC Bayern München playmaker did lay on a golden chance for Anelka on 33 minutes. After playing a corner short, Ribéry's cross found the Chelsea FC striker unmarked but he headed over. Anelka vented his frustration four minutes later by blasting into the side netting from an impossible angle, as Benzema's calls for a cross went unanswered. Both sides began the second period in more attack-minded fashion. Malouda was first to threaten, bursting past Cosmin Contra but shooting over the crossbar, before Romania enjoyed their best spell. Chivu's influence was growing and when his slide-rule pass found Mutu, the ACF Fiorentina player was felled by Willy Sagnol on the edge of the box. But as the France fans held their breath, Mutu directed his free-kick into the wall. Les Bleus finished in the ascendancy. Ribéry's low centre from the right reached Benzema unmarked just inside the penalty area but his first-time shot was straight at Lobonţ on 57 minutes. The Olympique Lyonnais youngster then miscued another right-footed attempt after latching on to Anelka's header. Bafétimbi Gomis and Samir Nasri were introduced for the closing stages, yet neither succeeded in making inroads, as Romania held firm until the very end.

0  France

Manager: Raymond Domenech

0  Romania

Manager: Victor Piturca

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Gregory Coupet
Defender Eric Abidal
Defender William Gallas
Defender Willy Sagnol
Defender Lilian Thuram (captain)
Midfielder Claude Makelele
Midfielder Franck Ribéry
Midfielder Jeremy Toulalan
Forward Nicolas Anelka
Forward Karim Benzema
Forward Florent Malouda

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Bogdan Lobonț
Defender Cristian Chivu (captain)
Defender Cosmin Contra
Defender Dorin Goian
Defender Mirel Radoi
Defender Gabriel Tamaş
Defender/Midfielder Razvan Rat
Midfielder Banel Nicolita
Forward Razvan Cocis
Forward Adrian Mutu
Forward Daniel Niculae

Substitutions:

Bafetimbi Gomis for Nicolas Anelka 72
Samir Nasri for Karim Benzema 77

Substitutions:

Paul Codrea for Razvan Cocis 63
Marius Niculae for Adrian Mutu 78
Nicolae Dica for Mirel Radoi 90

Cards:

Willy Sagnol 51 Y

Cards:

Daniel Niculae 27 Y
Cosmin Contra 40 Y
Dorin Goian 43 Y

On the bench:

Goalkeeper Sebastien Frey
Goalkeeper Steve Mandanda
Defender Francois Clerc
Defender/Centre back Jean-Alain Boumsong
Defender/Left back Patrice Evra
Midfielder Lassana Diarra
Midfielder Samir Nasri
Midfielder Patrick Vieira
Forward Bafetimbi Gomis
Forward Sidney Govou
Forward Thierry Henry

On the bench:

Goalkeeper Marius Popa
Goalkeeper Eduard Stancioiu
Defender Sorin Ghionea
Defender Cosmin Moţi
Defender Stefan Radu
Midfielder Paul Codrea
Midfielder Adrian Cristea
Midfielder Marius Niculae
Midfielder Florentin Petre
Midfielder/Forward Nicolae Dica
Forward Ciprian Marica

Comments:

- Lilian Thuram played in his 15th European Championship match, therefore breaking the all time record of most appearances in the competition. - Nicolas Anelka has still not scored at the European Championship, making him one of the most unsuccessful strikers in the competition. With six goalless matches behind Anelka's name, Turkey's Arif Erdem is the only 'scoreless' striker at the European Championship with more matches played (seven).

Comments:

- The 0-0 result between Romania and France is the first draw of Euro 2008. It is also the 20th goalless draw in the history of the European Championship since the introduction of the group phase (1980). 15 of those 0-0's took place in the group phase, five in the knock-out stages. - Romania have still won only once at the European Championship in 11 matches; that victory being 3-2 against England at Euro 2000.