France wrap up preparations with shock defeat to China

France 0 China 1

Deng Zhuoxiang’s 68th-minute goal was enough to hand Raymond Domenech and his team defeat in their third and final warm-up match, a week before their tournament opener against Uruguay. Les Bleus were already heading to South Africa in disarray following a dismal performance in the qualifiers – particularly against Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland – and their confidence has taken another knock of late.

Last night’s defeat capped a series of disappointing results which has seen them held to a 1-1 draw by Tunisia and come from behind to narrowly beat Costa Rica 2-1.

Domenech fielded the same team that had started the previous two matches and they began brightly.

They could have taken an early lead when Nicolas Anelka released Florent Malouda on the left flank and the Chelsea midfielder raced forwards before putting in a tantalising cross which China goalkeeper Zeng Cheng did well to clear.

Franck Ribery tried his luck from distance moments later with a fierce effort which took Zeng two attempts to catch and the Bayern Munich winger had another opportunity with a powerful shot which scraped past the left upright.

William Gallas, who had been a doubt before the match, thought he had opened the scoring in the 13th minute after Anelka had deflected a poor Zeng clearance into his path, but he was signalled offside.

Half-time substitute Anthony Reveillere, who had been the only player not to feature in the warm-up matches, misplaced a pass which allowed China to storm downfield and win a free-kick.

Deng floated the ball into the back of the net from 30 yards out to break the deadlock and stun the France team.

Les Bleus tried desperately to find the equaliser. However, it was a case of Les Bleus missing too many balls and that was typified in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Gourcuff’s free-kick arrived at the far post. Henry flicked it on for Gallas, who only had to tap it in – but the Arsenal defender completely failed to get a touch.

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