Uruguay hits France with a dose of karma

Uruguay's Diego Forlan argues with France's Thierry Henry as Franck Ribery looks on. (REUTERS/Mike...

Uruguay's Diego Forlan argues with France's Thierry Henry as Franck Ribery looks on. (REUTERS/Mike Hutchings)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:35 PM ET

JOHANNESBURG -- There are millions of football fans that now believe that indeed there is justice in this world.

It's a feeling that will only increase 10-fold should France go out in the first round, thanks to a non-call on a handball.

That would be the sweetest justice.

France and Uruguay opened their 2010 World Cup in Cape Town Friday drawing 0-0.

There was little to see in either team that would set the fear of God in either Mexico or South Africa, the other two members of Group A.

All four teams are now tied with one point each after South Africa and Mexico's 1-1 draw earlier in the day.

But in the kind of twist of fate that was delicious in nature, France was made to suffer the same way it made Ireland suffer.

OK, perhaps not as severely, at least not yet.

France qualified for the World Cup in the most controversial way. The incident ranks near the top in moments of the history of cheating.

During a qualifying playoff game against Ireland, Henry handled the ball twice before setting up William Gallas for a goal that advanced France to the World Cup and sent Ireland home.

Late in the Uruguay game Friday, Henry fired a shot from inside the penalty area that struck Uruguayan defender Nicolas Victorino in the arm.

Henry immediately raised his hand pleading for a penalty that was denied.

The French came into this game with more questions than answers. They were mediocre leading up to the tournament but were still favoured to win this group.

Days before the game, France produced more controversy than good football. When lame-duck coach Raymond Domenech decided to start Henry on the bench, many on his team were critical of the decision.

Uruguay was happy to play for the tie. They had numbers behind the ball and looked to frustrate the French.

The French were able to move the ball well until they reached the three-quarter mark of the field. From that point, they had no one able to find the slashing pass to cut open the Uruguayans.

"It is frustrating not to have won the match," Domenech said. "Perhaps we weren't calm enough or quite precise enough in the final phase. Uruguay defended very well and they have quality in that regard. We tried and in the way we approached the game we did a great deal but we weren't able to finish our chances."

Even when Nicolas Lodeiro went out with a second yellow card (two of seven given in the game), France could generate minimal pressure.

Goalkeeper Fernando Muslera's best save came in the first half to deny a wicked free kick from Yoann Gourcuff.

Uruguayan sniper Diego Forlan had his side's best chance when the ball fell to him in the penalty box in the 73rd minute but he whipped his shot wide.

The last incident in the insipid game fell to Henry. In the 93rd minute, France was awarded a free kick outside the box. His effort was pathetically weak.

“It is almost a beautiful 0-0,” Domenech said.

He must have been watching a different game.

The final whistle rewarded Uruguay with a satisfying point.

For the French, it marked another week of questions and unrest.


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