Stalemate at Stade de France
By Mark Kendall. Last Updated: 27/09/05 9:35pm
Lille and Villarreal shared the spoils at the Stade de France as a tight game ended in a goalless draw.
Clear-cut chances were at a premium throughout, although both sides struck the woodwork.
In the end it will probably be Villarreal who leave France the happier of the two sides, but Lille will be relieved to have secured their first point in this season's competition.
It was the hosts who made the better start and almost moved ahead inside 60 seconds.
Former Tottenham midfielder Milenko Acimovic slipped Matt Moussilou through and the rangy striker eluded the offside trap and had a clear sight of goal, but dragged his shot into the side netting from a tight angle.
Strike partner Peter Odemwingie then blasted wide from 20 yards and Mathieu Debuchy saw a looping header drop on to the top of the net.
On 21 minutes Moussilou did have the ball in the net after a smart turn and finish, but was denied by an offside flag, a fate that then befell Odemwingie barely a minute later.
But Villarreal started to get a foothold in the game with Argentine midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme an ever-growing influence.
He was to the fore on the half hour mark when, after Diego Forlan had been crudely dragged down on the edge of the box by Rafael Schmitz, who was lucky to escape a red card, his superb free kick clipped off the outside of the post with goalkeeper Tony Sylva well beaten.
Riquelme then cleverly played in Luciano Figueroa with a chipped through ball, but the former Birmingham striker was denied by the sprawling Sylva who managed to get a leg on the ball and deflect it wide of the post.
The Spaniards picked up where they had left off after the interval with Figueroa drawing another smart stop from Sylva with a header from Marcos Senna's free kick.
But it was Lille who went closest to breaking the deadlock on 55 minutes after some fine play from Odemwingie - the striker twisted Juan Manuel Pena first one way then the other in the box before unleashing a thunderous left-foot drive that cannoned off the bar and to safety.
Substitute Gonzalo Rodriguez almost made an instant impression for Villarreal but put a header just the wrong side of the post after getting on the end of an inviting Riquelme set piece.
As the game entered the final 20 minutes it was Lille who had wrestled back the initiative and Sebastian Viera in the Villarreal goal had to be alert to parry away a powerful header from Jean Makoum, while Moussilou could not quite latch on to the rebound.
Odemwingie and Debuchy both failed to take half-chances as the game drew to a close, but in the end fear of conceding seemed to take over as both sides settled for a point.
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