France lose to China in final warm-up

By Patrick Vignal

SAINT-PIERRE, Reunion (Reuters) - France slumped to a surprise 1-0 defeat by China in their final World Cup warm-up on Friday.

The former world champions, playing on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion for the first time, did nothing to suggest they could make an impact at the June 11-July 11 finals in South Africa.

China, who did not qualify for the World Cup, scored against the run of play in the 68th minute through midfielder Deng Zhuoxiang's 25-meter free kick.

France, who frustrated 10,000 enthusiastic, flag-waving fans packing the small stadium of the tropical island's second-largest city, now fly to South Africa where they will face the hosts, Mexico and Uruguay in Group A.

Like he had for the 2-1 warm-up win over Costa Rica and a 1-1 draw with Tunisia, France coach Raymond Domenech left former captain Thierry Henry out of his team and opted for a 4-3-3 system instead of the usual 4-2-3-1. France looked promising at first and center back William Gallas had a goal ruled offside on 13 minutes.

The hosts had most of the possession but created few clear chances until threatening with a low drive from the edge of the box by playmaker Yoann Gourcuff that keeper Zeng Cheng did well to save on 33 minutes.

France kept pushing for an equalizer in the closing stages and substitute Abou Diaby fired wide with a powerful, low shot from the edge of the area nine minutes from time.

Domenech's men play their first World Cup match against Uruguay on June 11 in Cape Town.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)