Laurent Blanc's side will not be pleased after producing an unimpressive performance in Bucharest that has allowed Bosnia back into the reckoning to win the groupRomania christened their new National Arena with a scoreless draw against France in Euro 2012 qualifying, though the visiting team will doubtless voice their dissatisfaction with the dreadful state of the playing surface, which cut up immediately and progressively deteriorated over the course of the game.
Despite the lamentable state of the pitch, the visitors were uninspiring throughout in an encounter that was devoid of moments of excitement.
The opening period was a sterile affair with little to commend it from either side’s point of view. New Saint-Etienne signing Banel Nicolita introduced himself to French fans with two dangerous in-swinging free kicks from near the touchline, though both were well saved by Hugo Lloris, who would have had no chance had Dorian Goian got his toe to the first effort.
Laurent Blanc had made five changes to his squad following Friday’s win over Albania, but these failed to inject any new life into his side. Though the guests dominated possession, they were largely inert going forward, lacking innovation and daring in the final third. Indeed, their efforts were summed up by a hopeful Karim Benzema header from 20 yards out that skidded a yard wide.
In the first period, Yohan Cabaye had been one of the more impressive visiting players, and quarter of an hour after the interval he went close to producing a much-needed goal. Pouncing on a loose ball at the edge of the box, he dodged one challenge but sent his shot a foot high.
Minutes later, a rare moment of inspiration from Franck Ribery saw him wriggle between two challenges before sending a shot from a highly improbable angle wide of goal.
As news of a late winner for Bosnia filtered through, the realisation seemed to hit the Romanians that they would need a win to prolong their interest in the qualification campaign, prompting something of a response in the closing stages. Despite manufacturing a handful of promising situations, however, the hosts would be denied.
Though there was endeavour from both sides to find a winning goal, both were lacking in the inspiration to do so, and the draw is ultimately little use to either nation. France find their top spot under pressure from the Bosnians, while Romania can effectively forget about playing in Poland and Ukraine next summer, having fallen four points behind the second-placed outfit.