LOSC Lille Métropole and Villarreal CF are still looking for their first goals in UEFA Champions League Group D after a hard-fought encounter at the Stade de France ended in stalemate.
Two of the competition's least experienced sides, Lille and Villarreal showed plenty of ambition but lacked punch in the final third as numerous flowing moves came to nothing. Villarreal's best opportunity fell to Luciano Figueroa in the first half, while Lille's Peter Odemwingie hit the crossbar after the break, but neither coach could complain about the final score.
Lille coach Claude Puel named an adventurous lineup for his team's first game at the Stade de France, with Matt Moussilou partnering Odemwingie in attack, while central midfielders Mathieu Bodmer and Jean Makoun were flanked by the attack-minded Mathieu Debuchy and Milenko Ačimovič.
Encouraged by the large number of supporters who had travelled from Lille, the Ligue 1 side began well, creating a series of early openings. Moussilou, who was returning to his roots having grown up in the Saint-Denis area, almost had a dream start when Ačimovič put him clear, but the striker shot tamely into the side-netting.
Lille seemed to relish the chance to play in France's national stadium, but failed to make their initial dominance count. Odemwingie fired wide from the edge of the area on three minutes before Debuchy headed Grégory Tafforeau's deep cross over the bar.
Villarreal had restored Alessio Tacchinardi to their team, and the experienced Italian, positioned in front of the back four, was soon helping to stem the Lille tide. With the influence of Argentinian duo Juan Román Riquelme and Juan Pablo Sorín also growing, the Spanish club created their first opportunity on 17 minutes, Diego Forlán escaping down the left and crossing just too far in front of Figueroa.
The sides looked evenly matched, but a moment of brilliance from Riquelme almost broke the deadlock just before the half-hour. The former FC Barcelona player fizzed a free-kick over the Lille wall, but the ball flashed fractionally wide of Tony Sylva's near post.
The hosts showed that they too have offensive quality as Ačimovič chipped intelligently through for Odemwingie, whose header looped over Sebastián Viera and over the bar. It was Villarreal who had the best opening of the period, however, Figueroa slipping the offside trap but seeing his effort deflected wide by the advancing Sylva.
Lille replaced Bodmer with Stéphane Dumont at half-time, while Villarreal introduced Marcos Senna in place of Sorín. Both teams appeared determined to secure their first Group D win and the game started to open up. The ever-dangerous Figueroa met a centre from the right on 52 minutes, but his header was tipped over by Sylva.
With the action flowing from end to end, Odemwingie found space on the left and crossed low for Moussilou who was denied by Rodolfo Arruabarrena's perfectly-timed challenge. Jan Kromkamp was having difficulty keeping Odemwingie quiet and the Nigerian was unfortunate to see his 56th-minute strike rebound off the woodwork from an acute angle.
Both teams continued to construct moves with good, short passing, but neither could find the killer touch. Arruabarrena nodded Riquelme's free-kick over before Lille drew Viera into his first real save of the night, the Villarreal keeper punching out Makoun's close-range header. The draw leaves Lille bottom of the group with one point, while Villarreal have two.