Hand Of The Match: Thierry Henry

In the second match between the Republic of Ireland and France on Stade de France in Paris, Ireland fought like tigers and they were – as in big parts of the first match at Croke Park in Dublin – clearly the best team.

Highlights now available under ‘VIDEOS’ in the sidebar

But what good did that do when Thierry Henry was allowed to use his hand to control the ball and give it further to Gallas to put it in goal after 102 minutes of play?

But there sometimes is no justice in the game of football. If there were the Irish would have won the match on their fighting spirit alone. But it should be said that it is part and parcel of the play to manage to score on your chances as well. But Doyle after 30- O’Shea after 50- Duff after 60- and Keane after 70 minutes did not manage to do that on clear chances, so there you go.

The Irish started the match very good and ‘Doylers’ chance came just before the half hour mark, when he headed the ball wide from six yards. But only seven minutes later Kevin Kilbane releases Damien Duff with a lovely pass and the winger cuts a perfect ball back for Robbie Keane to finish right-footed into the corner.

A lovely goal and Ireland had leveled out in the two-legged qualifications clash and Stade de France went totally silent. Were they praying? Perhaps they should as the Irish played very good and their own players didn’t get many passes right.

This was exactly the situation the manager Trapattoni and the players had talked about before this game. Get an early goal and the French would get nervous and sloppy and perhaps…

And all that happened. France got sloppy and Ireland got several good chances but the French looked as saved by a bigger power. That gal Marianne or someone, perhaps?!

Experienced World players like Gignac, Scillachi, Diarra, Gallas and even the great Anelka did easy mistakes when they had an Irish bloodhound behind their heels all the time.

In added time in the first half Wheelan had a good chance, but it deflected off Anelkas head and out. It was boos and whistles when ‘les bleus’ went in for half time rest and their coach Domenech did not look too happy.

After five minutes of the second half gone John O’Shea had the chance of his life when he got the ball unmarked by the right post after a set piece. He took it down on his chest and footed it high over the crossbar.

Unbelievable. That should have been an Irish goal. Either directly with his head or – as he did – by the foot after taking it down. I must admit I begun to mistrust now. Chances like that don’t come many in a match. But they did. Ten minutes after that Duff should have done better, but he was on heavy pressure and the keeper did a good block. But it was a very good chance.

Another ten minutes or so later Ireland got their third clearcut chance as Robbie Keane got through on the left as Gallas misses his tackle on him and Robbie is clean through and takes it past the keeper as well, but he over-hits it and the ball goes out of play with an empty goal waiting.

Three clearcut chances in half an hour and I started to realise where this was going. Ireland was still the best team, though, and had the best chances – in fact France had no clearcut chance for the whole of the match – but the damn ball just didn’t go in. Was it jinxed?

The whistle blew for full time and after a while the agony started again. Keane had a half chance as Dierra gave away the ball to him. Dierra did that a lot in the match. But just as you were thinking that Ireland still was the best team and most likely to score the disaster happened.

A free-kick for France about twenty-five yards from Shay Givens goal and the ball was kicked to Thierry Henry. Two of the French players were clearly offside when the free was taken, but that was not the main thing. Henry took the ball with his hand and after controlling it that way by the left post he kicked it in to Gallas who had no problem at taking it down and kicking it in the net behind Given.

One hundred and two minutes of play and which team goes to South Africa and the worlds greatest sporting event should be decided by the hand of Thierry Henry. Or was it the hand of God again? Probably Henry already has talked to the press about it all, but I don’t care what he says. It’s done and over with.

But of course the irish continued to fight and of course they were still the best team, but after that ‘goal’ it was much easier for the French, as they only had to care about defending themselves now – not going forward.

What about Kevin Doyle then, may some readers ask? He had that good chance in the first half but no clearcut chances in the second or later, but he was one of the best players on the pitch in Paris, as he was in Dublin. Winning lots of headers and fighting hard and fruitfully on midfield as on top. But this was not a good day to be Irish.

Paddy

France: Lloris, Sagna, Gallas, Escude, Evra, Lassana Diarra, Alou Diarra, Gourcuff, Anelka, Gignac, Henry. Subs: Mandanda, Remy, Sissoko, Benzema, Govou, Malouda, Squillaci.
Rep of Ireland: Given, O’Shea, St. Ledger, Dunne, Kilbane, Lawrence, Whelan, Andrews, Duff, Doyle, Keane. Subs: Joe Murphy, McGeady, McShane, Kelly, Gibson, Hunt, Best.




Hand of the Match

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~ by paddytheflea on November 19, 2009.

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