Henry admits cheating to deny Ireland WC play-off
The Frenchman juggled the ball with his hand twice before crossing for William Gallas’ goal
France striker Thierry Henry cheerfully admitted last night that he had cheated in the build-up to the goal which denied Ireland the possibility of their first World Cup appearance in eight years. With the score at 1-0 to the Irish in Paris in extra time - 1-1 on aggregate and enough to take the game to the lottery of penalties - the Barcelona and former Arsenal great clearly used his hand twice to keep the ball in play before passing to William Gallas, who nodded the ball past Shay Given.
"I will be honest, it was a handball," Henry confirmed afterwards, "but I'm not the ref. It would have been better to do it in another way, but as I said, I'm not the ref." Ireland defender Richard Dunne said: "I think it is quite blatant that he did. It's not even a hard decision. admitted afterwards he handled it. We were cheated." The Republic's Italian boss Giovanni Trapattoni also expressed his outrage: 'I am not only disappointed, I am also sad. It is a bitter evening. It's a bitter situation. I would prefer to have gone out on penalties."
The Irish had made all the early play in a game against a clearly nervous French side, and went in at half-time with the deficit from the first leg erased after a wonderfully taken goal from Robbie Keane. There were more chances for the visitors to put the game beyond doubt, but as the game wore on France started to impose themselves and it was a ragged Ireland that saw Gallas' goal in the first half of extra time decide the play-off and knock them out of the running to go South Africa.
Fifa will be equally pleased that Portugal will be joining France in the hat for the 2010 tournament after a Cristiano Ronaldo-less side beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 in Sarajevo to consolidate their 2-0 aggregate win. Russia were shocked by minnows Slovenia, whose away goal in the 2-1 defeat in Moscow and 1-0 win last night saw them through, while Greece knocked out Ukraine thanks to a 1-0 away victory in Donetsk after the first leg had remained scoreless. ·
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