BERLIN – France and South Korea picked up just about where they left off four years ago.
The French, who won the World Cup in 1998 but went home early last time, failed to score a goal in their fourth straight World Cup match. This time it was a 0-0 draw with Switzerland in Group G on Tuesday.
Unexpected semifinalists as co-hosts last time, South Korea won away from home for the first time in 15 World Cup matches, beating Togo 2-1 in the same group.
Later Tuesday, defending champion Brazil opened against Croatia in Group F.
The last time the French scored in a World Cup game was when it beat Brazil 3-0 in the 1998 final. Switzerland also held France to draws in two qualifying games.
"We know that team all too well," France coach Raymond Domenech said. "It's the sort of match we expected. We could have beaten them in the first half, they could have won the match in the second half.
"This was a high-level match from both teams."
Despite being forced to play as a lone striker in Stuttgart, Thierry Henry came close with three shots and a header in the first half, while Zinedine Zidane's deft touches set up the best French moves.
Switzerland, however, almost went ahead in the 23rd minute when Tranquillo Barnetta sent a free kick into the penalty area, but Philippe Senderos and Alexander Frei both failed to get a touch and the ball hit the post.
France lost to Senegal and Denmark at the last World Cup and left in humiliation after the first round.
At Frankfurt, Ahn Jung-hwan scored the winning goal in the 72nd minute for South Korea, which faced a team that nearly played without a coach.
Togo made its chaotic debut at the World Cup with coach Otto Pfister quitting Friday and then returning for the match. The 68-year-old German had left the team because of a dispute between his players and the country's soccer federation over bonuses.
"This situation is definitely very hard," defender Toure Assimiou said. "You're in the World Cup for the first time and then something like this happens."
Mohamed Kader gave the African team the lead in the 31st minute with a shot from 14 yards. But seconds after Togo captain Jean-Paul Abalo was sent off for getting his second yellow card, Lee Chun-soo sent a free kick over the defensive wall and past Togo goalkeeper Kossi Agassa for the equalizer in the 54th minute.
"I'm so very happy that the South Korean team played here in Europe and won this match," Ahn said.