World Cup - Hand of Henry denies Ireland

Wed, 18 Nov 21:15:00 2009

Republic of Ireland were kept out of the 2010 World Cup as Thierry Henry's handball helped France to a 2-1 aggregate win.

Henry handball - 0

Ireland made the trip to Paris trailing 1-0 from the first leg, but they dominated the game and Robbie Keane's goal on 33 minutes took the match to extra-time.

There was nothing between the two sides, but Henry blotted his copybook with a blatant handball that allowed him to set up William Gallas's pivotal goal.

Ireland had nothing to give in the final 15 minutes, having run themselves into the ground to force extra-time, and France progressed with more than a slice of fortune.

Giovanni Trapattoni said there was no need for his players to fear playing in Paris and they clearly heeded his words as Ireland took the game to France from the outset.

France were dealt an early setback as Julien Escude was forced off on nine minutes with a head injury, but his departure mattered little as Ireland dominated the ball.

With Keane running the line tirelessly, ably supported by Kevin Doyle, Liam Lawrence and Damien Duff, France were given no time to set the tempo.

Chances were at a premium but Doyle should really have put his side ahead on 26 minutes. A fantastic cross from Lawrence allowed Doyle to get the jump on Gallas but with the goal gaping from six yards, he glanced the effort wide.

Ireland continued to press and were rewarded on 32 minutes with a goal of real quality. Duff exchanged passes with Kevin 'Zinedine' Kilbane and raced into the box. The Fulham man got his head up at the byline and picked out Keane in acres of space and he made no mistake, tucking the ball home from 10 yards.

Shay Given was a virtual spectator in the opening 45 minutes, as France in general and Andre-Pierre Gignac in particular, were poor going forward.

Any thoughts of a France onslaught after the break were snuffed out minutes into the second half as John O'Shea passed up a golden opening to double Ireland's advantage.

The Manchester United defender found acres of space at the back post from a Lawrence free kick and took the ball down superbly, only to lash his shot high over the top from eight yards.

Ireland continued to fashion the better chances and they should have taken control of the tie on the hour.

Lassana Diarra was caught in possession and Ireland released Duff. He got away from his marker and had only the keeper to beat but shot weakly at Hugo Lloris.

Given made just one save in the second half as Ireland fashioned the greater chances and Keane passed up a fantastic opening 17 minutes from time. A deft pass from Lawrence played in the Tottenham man, who eased round the keeper but the ball ran away and over the line with the goal gaping.

The steam appeared to go out of Ireland's play in the final ten minutes and France upped their game heading into extra-time.

On 98 minutes Nicolas Anelka raced into the box and went round Given, only to tumble to the floor. The Irish keeper waved his arms in protest and referee Martin Hansson awarded the goal kick.

Replays proved the referee correct, but he turned from hero to villain in Irish eyes six minutes later as France levelled on the night and edged ahead on aggregate.

A deep free-kick looked to be heading out for a goal kick but Henry stuck out a hand to keep it in and then flicked it with his hand a second time to gain control. The Barcelona man turned the ball across goal for Gallas to bundle home.

The Irish were incensed, led by Given, but Hansson awarded the goal. The Swede had a great game for 103 minutes, but will be left to reflect on his decision which robbed Ireland of a chance to claim a place at the World Cup finals as France held on for a 2-1 aggregate success.

Eurosport

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