Ribery jeered as Croatia hold France

PARIS - France missed out on a seventh consecutive win when they were held to a 0-0 draw by Croatia in a friendly on Tuesday when Franck Ribery experienced a mixed reception in his first home game since the World Cup fiasco.

Les Bleus, who extended their Euro 2012 qualifying Group D lead with a 2-0 win in Luxembourg last Friday, dominated a tense but poor quality game and Ribery's appearance on the hour was the highlight of the night.

Huge boos came from the stands when the influential midfielder replaced Florent Malouda but other parts of the stadium began to chant his name after he picked up the ball.

Ribery and Patrice Evra were suspended for three and five matches for their involvement in last year's World Cup debacle when France players went on strike to support Nicolas Anelka, who was kicked out for insulting coach Raymond Domenech.

Both were booed when the stadium announcer read the substitutes' names before kick-off.

"I was expecting to be booed," Ribery told reporters.

"I am very happy with the crowd's good reaction. It gave me more confidence."

Captain Alou Diarra stamped his authority on the midfield as France, playing in their newly designed white and navy blue stripped jersey, started well with Jeremy Menez a constant threat on the right flank.

LOOKED DANGEROUS

Croatia looked dangerous on the break but the French central defence, well marshalled by Philippe Mexes, comfortably coped with the threat.

Menez beat the offside trap in the 37th minute before finding Karim Benzema with a low cross, only for the Real Madrid striker to sky his attempt over the bar from six metres.

Croatia, however, came very close four minutes before the interval when Ivan Perisic outpaced Gael Clichy on the right, dribbled past Mexes in the box and fired a low shot that Hugo Lloris tipped away.

On the stroke of half-time, Menez and Benzema played a fine one-two but Benzema once again misfired.

The match was briefly interrupted shortly after the resumption when Croatia fans threw flares onto the pitch.

Tension rose again when Ribery replaced Malouda, with the Bayern Munich player booed and cheered on by the crowd.

It did not seem to bother him, however, and Ribery created a good chance 15 minutes from time.

"We have been trying to make the Stade de France our home and it's a bit of a shame that some players get something of a special treatment," Malouda said.