France loses 1-0 to China in World Cup warmup

Published Jun. 4, 2010 8:43 p.m. ET

France lost 1-0 to China in its final warmup match before the start of the World Cup in South Africa.

Deng Zhuo Xiang scored the winning goal in the 68th minute with a swerving free kick from 25 meters.

The result dealt a blow to France's confidence as the 2006 World Cup finalist has conceded a goal in each of its last three friendlies while scoring just three times.

``It's the type of match where you know that no matter what we do, it couldn't go in. That's too bad,'' France coach Raymond Domenech told TF1 television.

``I'm like everybody - I'm disappointed - but the World Cup isn't today, it starts the 11th,'' Domenech said. ``We still have a week to put everything in place, study our options.''

France drew 1-1 with Tunisia last weekend and beat Costa Rica 2-1 last month. It will open its World Cup campaign against Uruguay on June 11, before taking on Mexico and host South Africa in Group A.

``It's a solid team that will be tough to outmaneuver,'' Domenech said about Uruguay. ``Then we face Mexico, which just beat Italy. So we know it won't be easy. But it won't be easy either for our opponents.''


China failed to qualify for the World Cup and was missing several regular starters.

Zhang Cheng made some crucial saves to help preserve the victory.

Sidney Govou nearly leveled for France in the 71st but Cheng denied him and Anelka, who pounced on the rebound, had his close-range shot blocked by the goalkeeper.

Cheng dived in the 82nd to turn the ball around the post after a long-range strike from Abou Diaby. He then stopped an angled shot by Andre-Pierre Gignac in the 85th, and came off his goal line to get the better of Thierry Henry in the 90th.

Cheng, however, needed some help from his defenders in injury time to clear the ball after a free kick from playmaker Yoann Gourcuff brought a goalmouth scramble.

A very disciplined team which mainly relies on swift counterattacks to score, China spent most of the first half bending under France's pressure.

France dominated possession but struggled to create clear-cut chances.

Florent Malouda made a run on the left flank to fire an angled shot that was saved by Cheng in the second minute. France kept pressing but Franck Ribery's low shot from the edge of the box was stopped by Cheng in the three minutes later.

William Gallas found the net in the 13th with a backheel flick off a pass from Nicolas Anelka, but the defender was offside.

France's best chance in the first half came when Gallas headed a corner from Gourcuff just wide of the post in the 35th.