MONTEVIDEO (AFP) - A clinically-taken goal from controversial striker Luis Suarez gave Uruguay a 1-0 win in a tame friendly against a young France side in Montevideo's Centenario Stadium on Wednesday.
Suarez, a half-time substitute for Diego Forlan, made an immediate difference to the tempo of the game and had a rapid impact by breaking the deadlock just five minutes after coming on.
He capitalised on the inexperience of French central defender Eliaquim Mangala to slip past him and slide an angled shot beyond Steve Mandanda in the French goal.
But that was to prove the only real moment of drama in a game played largely at walking pace until the impressive Gaston Ramirez forced Mandanda into a fine save with a rasping left foot shot nine minutes from the end. In an error-strewn opening spell, neither side threatened a real breakthrough as cautious defending held sway and wary forays from midfield were quickly snuffed out.
However, the French slowly gained the upper hand and it took an acrobatic save from Fernando Muslera in the Uruguay goal to deny Dimitri Payet on the half-hour as the Lille striker let fly with his left foot from the edge of the area.
Muslera had to be alert as the French began to string moves together and more than once had to get down sharply and commit himself to avert the danger, saving first at the feet of Olivier Giroud and then holding another Payet shot.
But having briefly come to life, the first half petered out tamely without the deadlock being threatened, as it had not been in the four previous meetings between the two countries.
Yet it only took five minutes of the second half for unsettled Liverpool striker Suarez to open the scoring.
Ramirez sent Maxi Pereira away down the right and the full back threaded the ball into Suarez in the area. He wriggled his way past Mangala to steer his shot beyond Mandanda.
The introduction of the lively Ramirez and Suarez had brought the game to life and the Uruguayans pressed forward for a second with Mandanda in action to deny Suarez again and Edinson Cavani in quick succession.