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France teeters on brink

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002

BUSAN, South Korea -- France is not out. But to believe the defending champion will beat Denmark in its final group game and find a way into the second round might be a stretch after its 0-0 tie Thursday against Uruguay.

The first scoreless tie of the tournament left France without a goal in its first two games, including a 1-0 loss to Senegal. France must beat Denmark on Tuesday to have a chance of advancing from Group A.

"We are going to have to play a good match against Denmark, but it is possible," coach Roger Lemerre said. "We have hope."

France has hope only because Fabien Barthez made some sensational saves and it held on despite being short-handed for the final 65 minutes, after Thierry Henry was ejected for a high challenge on Marcelo Romero.

The last defending champion eliminated in the first round was Brazil in 1966.

Uruguay, which also has one point, must beat Senegal on Tuesday and then win a tiebreaker.

"We struggled to find our game in the beginning. I think we were a little unsure of ourselves," Uruguay coach Victor Pua said. "But we played much better as the game went on. All in all, it was a fair draw."

France again was without star midfielder Zinedine Zidane, who has a torn thigh muscle. It also lost defender Frank Leboeuf, who limped off in the 16th minute with a groin injury.

SENEGAL 1, DENMARK 1: Salif Diao capped a brilliant play with the tying goal for Senegal in Daegu, South Korea. With a tie against Uruguay in its final Group A game Tuesday, Senegal will advance to the second round in its first World Cup.

Senegal made a three-way passing play for the goal. Until then, it appeared disjointed without captain Aliou Cisse, out with a calf injury. When Henri Camara was inserted at midfield after halftime, the direction changed.

Camara grabbed possession deep inside his own half in the 52nd minute to spark the goal. Diao received the final pass from Khalilou Fadiga, slid between two defenders and used the outside of his right foot to beat Thomas Soerensen.

"In the second half, the players showed all their talent and really gave pleasure to African football," Senegal coach Bruno Metsu said. "With a bit more time, we could have won the match."

Despite Diao being ejected for a hard tackle in the 80th minute, Denmark had nothing left. Coach Morten Olsen said his team was "lucky to get one point."

"Senegal was the better team in the second half," he said. "They are very, very dangerous on dead balls and corners."

Jon Dahl Tomasson scored Denmark's goal on a penalty kick.

CAMEROON 1, SAUDI ARABIA 0: Samuel Eto'o scored as Cameroon eliminated Saudi Arabia in a Group E game in Saitama, Japan. Cameroon advances to the second round if it beats Germany on Tuesday.

"It will be difficult against Germany," midfielder Lauren said. "They are one of the biggest teams in this World Cup. But in the game, anything can happen."

Eto'o slipped past two defenders in the 65th minute, took a pass and used his right foot to push the ball in.

The Saudis, coming off an 8-0 loss to Germany, showed composure, attacking vigorously at times but playing mostly on the defensive against a Cameroon team that gained confidence in the second half.

"I would like to apologize to our officials and fans," Saudi coach Nasser al-Johar said.

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