first_imgEuro 2016 runners-up France, with a largely revamped side, were held to 0-0 draw by African champions Ivory Coast in a dull friendly at Lens’s Stade Bollaert on Tuesday.After Friday’s 2-1 win over Sweden in a World Cup qualifier, France coach Didier Deschamps made seven changes, handing Paris St Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot and Stade Rennes goalkeeper Benoit Costil their first international caps.With forward Antoine Griezmann ruled out due to a foot injury, Les Bleus struggled to get into their stride as the game failed to ignite on a cold evening in northern France. (Also read: Spain fight back to snatch draw with England)The crowd booed at the end of the match, obviously disappointed with France’s performance.”We struggled, that’s not what I want to remember from 2016,” said Deschamps. “We could have won that game but we could have lost it. We made too many errors, especially in the second half.”Ivory Coast had the best chance in the 11th minute when Adama Traore’s 20-metre half-volley crashed against Costil’s post and Salomon Kalou, who followed up the shot, poked the ball into the net but his effort was disallowed for offside.France’s best opportunity in the first half came six minutes before the break when N’Golo Kante’s fierce 20-metre strike was blocked by goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo. (Also read: Italy, Germany play out 0-0 draw, Buffon equals European record)Moussa Sissoko also had a good chance after the interval but his header from Lucas Digne’s cross went just wide.advertisementEight days before PSG’s potential Champions League Group A decider at Arsenal, Rabiot limped off with a muscle injury in the 77th minute before Costil made a superb save to deny Nicolas Pepe from point-blank range in the last minute.”Adrien (Rabiot) picked up a thigh injury,” said Deschamps, without elaborating. France, who lead World Cup qualifying Group A by three points, next visit Luxembourg on March 25 when the battle to reach the 2018 finals in Russia resumes.CROATIA 3 – 0 NORTHERN IRELANDCroatia ended Northern Ireland’s three-year unbeaten home run with a comfortable 3-0 win thanks to goals from Mario Mandzukic, Duje Cop and Andrej Kramaric in their friendly on Tuesday.Croatia went ahead against Michael O’Neill’s second-string Irish side after nine minutes when striker Mandzukic reacted quickest to head the ball past stranded keeper Alan Mannus.It was the first goal the Irish, who had not lost at home in 11 games, had conceded at Windsor Park in six matches. The last time they went down at home was to Portugal in September 2013.Croatia added a second after 35 minutes through Cop after Matej Mitrovic flicked the ball on from a corner and Kramaric smashed the ball home from distance for their third.last_img