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Wayward France held 0-0 by Uruguay

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CAPE TOWN (Reuters) -- Lackluster France failed to turn its superior possession into chances and could ultimately pay a heavy price as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Uruguay in an uninspired World Cup Group A clash on Friday.

After South Africa and Mexico drew 1-1 in the tournament curtain-raiser in Johannesburg all four teams have a point each in what always looked an intriguing group.

It was not quite a repeat of France's 2002 horror show when, as holders, it lost 1-0 to Senegal en route to a first-round exit but the draw leaves the 2006 runners-up with plenty to do.

Uruguay finished the match with 10 men after substitute Nicolas Lodeiro picked up a second booking in the 81st minute.

The match on a crisp Cape Town night was never likely to match the opening game for action and fervour but France, despite pessimism among its fans, looked lively early on.

It had a great chance after seven minutes when Franck Ribery escaped down the left and crossed low only for Sydney Govou to sidefoot wide from six metres out.

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Yoann Gourcuff kept goalkeeper Fernando Muslera on his toes with a near-post free-kick but then the chances dried up.

Uruguay were relying on strike duo Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez to open up the French defence on their own, rarely committing midfielders forward to support them.

As the game wore on it began to look a reasonable tactic with the livewire Forlan dangerous around the box, albeit testing Hugo Lloris only once with a 20-metre curler.

Nicolas Anelka led a three-man front line but looked off the pace and was replaced by Thierry Henry after 73 minutes.

Despite the vuvuzela-led promptings of the 64,000 crowd in the magnificent new Green Point stadium neither side could raise their game, though Forlan lashed wide with 15 minutes left.

Domenech now faces a test of his abilities against Mexico before what could a mouthwatering finale versus the hosts.

Uruguay, twice champion but who has not got past the second round since 1970, will probably be pleased with the result as the group remains there for the taking.