The story appears on

Page A16

November 20, 2009

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Sports » Soccer

Henry hands France World Cup spot

THIERRY Henry is being compared to the great Diego Maradona and coach Raymond Domenech faced further criticism after France controversially scraped past Ireland to make the World Cup.

Captain Henry controversially handled the ball in the build-up to a late William Gallas' goal on Wednesday. "The hand of God," screamed the front page of French sports daily L'Equipe after France drew 1-1 with a brave Ireland side at Stade de France for a 2-1 aggregate playoff win.

Argentina's Maradona had scored from a handball in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal against England.

"France has qualified for the 2010 World Cup, that's for sure, but the result, the most essential thing in sport after all, is not enough to erase the uneasy feeling we had last night," L'Equipe wrote.

Domenech was far from apologetic after the game. "I don't see what we could have done better," he told reporters. "We needed to qualify and we did that, even if it was painful. Victories like this one, at the end of a difficult campaign, give this side heart and soul."

Henry admitted he had handled the ball. "Yes, there is handball but I am not the referee," he told reporters. "I'm in the box, there are two defenders in front of me. The ball bounced off my hand, the referee did not see it and I played on. "It doesn't change anything to the fact that I'm happy we have qualified."

Ireland captain Robbie Keane was furious with Henry.

"He's an absolutely top player and has been for a long time, but it was a clear handball. He actually dragged it in from going out. I wouldn't expect it from anybody."

Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni was graceful in defeat, quietly blaming a "great mistake" by Swedish referee Martin Hansson.

"I am sad because the referee had time to ask the linesman and I am sure he should have asked Henry as well," the Italian said.

Little comfort

Henry's admission and the fact that he praised Ireland for its spirited performance was of little comfort for Richard Dunne.

"He told us we deserved to win. How is that supposed to make me feel?," the Ireland defender told the Independent. "It makes me feel worse. He's admitted he cheated. We should have won. He just said, 'That's it'. He just said he handled it, he didn't mean it. Looking at it, it's quite obvious he did mean it."

Irish justice minister Dermot Ahern led calls for a playoff replay.

"My view is there should be a replay," he said. "They (FIFA) probably won't grant it as we are minnows in world football but let's put them on the spot," he added. "If that result remains, it reinforces the view that if you cheat, you will win."

Domenech could have won money had he bet on the result. "I never doubted, I was always convinced we would make it and the result would be a 1-1 draw."

Bookmakers William Hill said it would refund stake money to all punters who backed Ireland to qualify to be "as fair as possible to everyone."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend