Uruguay take heart from blunting France

CAPE TOWN (AFP) - Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez says he is happy with taking a point off France, and now fancies their chances in a finely poised Group A.

The South Americans soaked up the early French pressure to successfuly blunt the 1998 champions in a scrappy game at Cape Town's Green Point Stadium on Friday.

Uruguay's defender Mauricio Victorino (up) fights for the ball during their Group A first round 2010 World Cup football match on June 11, 2010. AFP photo

Tabarez took satisfaction out of a small country like his taming a footballing nation with bigger finances and more high-profile players.

"I wouldn't say that France deserved to win. We controlled them and they never really troubled us," he said.

"The group is now evenly balanced and the next games will be crucial.

"When you consider France's history and the fact they had far more finances than us, then I am happy with a draw."

Athletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan was comfortably their most effective player, going close twice, and he felt both teams deserved a point.

"We had a few good chances but we were often guilty of wasting our final ball. It's a shame. I thought the match was quite even," said the former Manchester United star, who was named man-of-the-match.

While Tabarez was content with the point, Uruguay have the unwanted mantle of being the first country to have a player sent off in South Africa after substitute Nicolas Lodeiro's dismissal for a brutal tackle.

Lodeiro received his marching orders in the 81st minute for a lunge at Bakari Sagna, just 15 minutes after coming on.

Tabarez had some sympathy for the player.

"Theoretically, any card is avoidable but I was once a player and I know what it is like to be out there," he said.

Uruguay, who won the tournament in 1930 and 1950, must now regroup before their next match against hosts South Africa in Pretoria on Wednesday.

"All the teams are on the same footing now," said Tabarez.

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