France 0-1 Argentina
A goal from former AS Monaco FC striker Javier Saviola was enough for Argentina to claim a notable friendly victory in Paris and send the majority of a record Stade de France crowd home disappointed.
Saviola, who spent the 2004/05 season on loan in the principality but managed only seven goals in 27 Ligue 1 outings, had better fortune in Argentina's colours, providing what proved to be the game's decisive moment on the quarter-hour. In front of 79,862 fans, Les Bleus strove to get back into the match but were unable to find an equaliser against a well-drilled opposition defence and will hope for better when their UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying campaign resumes next month.
The two countries were meeting for the tenth time - and the first since 1986 - with the match being particularly memorable for Valencia CF centre-back Roberto Ayala, who was making his 107th international appearance to overtake Diego Simeone as Argentina's most-capped player. There was more good news for the Albiceleste in the 15th minute as FC Internazionale Milano's Javier Zanetti combined with Saviola down the Argentina right to give Hernán Crespo a shooting chance and, although Grégory Coupet parried the striker's shot, Saviola was on hand to sweep in the rebound.
France subsequently gained the upper hand yet were unable to create clear opportunities, Franck Ribéry slicing an effort wide and David Trezeguet – who was raised in Argentina – being denied by visiting goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri four minutes before half-time. Instead it was Argentina who came closest to a second goal, Crespo forcing Coupet into a fine stop just before the hour, leaving coach Raymond Domenech with food for thought ahead of France's Group B trip to Lithuania on 24 March.
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