Les Bleus live to fight another day

8th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

DUBLIN, Sept 7 (AFP) - A brilliant goal by Thierry Henry gave 1998 World Cup winners France a vital 1-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland here on Wednesday in their 2006 World Cup qualifier and left the Irish with a mountain to climb.

DUBLIN, Sept 7 (AFP) - A brilliant goal by Thierry Henry gave 1998 World Cup winners France a vital 1-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland here on Wednesday in their 2006 World Cup qualifier and left the Irish with a mountain to climb.

Henry's goal gave France their first ever World Cup qualifier victory in the Irish capital.

The 28-year-old's goal - his 30th in 73 internationals - came shortly before he was substituted for the second successive match.

It was enough to see off a gallant Ireland side who had had the better chances in the first-half but now must win their final two matches against Cyprus and Switzerland if they are to have any chance of making the finals.

Henry said that unlike Saturday when he had several chances against the Faroe Islands he had not done so against the Irish.

"I didn't get a look in tonight and so I thought I should try something a bit different," said Henry. "The result is good but I don't think we won prettily. Ireland did not deserve to lose. I had to battle as it is difficult up front on your own. We shouldn't be over the moon as there is still a long way to go."

Ireland coach Brian Kerr said he had expected the match to be won either by a mistake or a brilliant individual effort.

"I am disappointed that we didn't get anything out of the match," said Kerr, who saw his side slide to their second successive home defeat having lost to Italy in a friendly.

"We can still qualify if we garner six points from the last two matches but I am very disappointed we didn't get at least a point. At times we played some good football especially in the first-hal but we were not up to them physically," said Kerr.

The French started by controlling possession and hustling Ireland off the ball at every opportunity. But when a Zinedine Zidane free kick forced a superb save from Shay Given in the eighth minute, it seemed to settle the Irish more than the French.

An Andy Reid free kick five minutes later clipped a static Gregory Coupet's post and the French central defence began looking shaky as Ireland began piling pressure on the French box.

As the half wore on, Ireland troubled the French more and more, though imprecision meant a genuine chance was never fashioned.

As the second-half simmered Roy Keane brought more control to Irish play as the French provided more width.

Despite the stalemate, there was always a feeling that the game threatened something, and in the 68th minute Henry broke the deadlock.

Extracting the ball amid a tangle of legs outside the Irish box, the Arsenal striker strode forward and shaped a graceful curling shot into Given's left-hand corner.

Raymond Domenech immediately replaced Zidane and soon after Henry.

Kerr, finding himself in a losing position for the first time in the group dithered before introducing Gary Doherty up front and Ian Harte on the left flank but it made little difference.

Indeed, the passion the Irish fans have come to expect, particularly while losing in the last ten minutes, never materalised.

The bookings in this game may yet cost the Irish as Roy Keane, Morrison and Reid picked up yellow cards and will miss the trip to Cyprus.

Ireland are not out of it yet but six points in their last two games is a must, while France are now virtually certain to clinch one of the two top spots despite victories Wednesday for Israel and Switzerland.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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