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Pattaya Daily News

19 November 2009 :: 14:11:53 pm 5878

France Through Following Controversial “Hand Of Henry”

The second leg of the European World Cup Qualifying Playoffs were played out overnight. France got through in controversial circumstances whilst Russia and the Ukraine will have to wait a further 4 years for the chance to perform on the biggest stage of the football calendar.
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France v Republic of Ireland (1-1, France through 2-1)

Irish team coach Giovanni Trapattoni had informed his players prior to the match in Paris, that there was no need for them to fear the French team, and it seems they heeded his words. From the outset the Irish team dominated proceedings through incisive raids down the flanks, not allowing the French team to gain any momentum. With chances at a premium in the first half it was a Robbie Keane goal on 35 minutes that levelled the aggregate scores at 1-1.

Ireland’s domination of proceedings throughout the first 90 minutes, to force the tie into extra-time, meant that their performance during the added time was quite laboured allow the French several opportunities to take the match. Controversy ensued when a deep free-kick looked to be heading out for a goal-kick when French striker Thierry Henry managed to deliberately put a hand two the ball twice in order to keep it in and control it respectively. The pass across the area to a waiting William Gallas ensured that the French team was off to the World Cup Finals at the expense of a valiant Ireland squad.

Slovenia v Russia (1-0, Slovenia through 2-2 on away goals rule)

The home side dominated in an entertaining first half, where a variety of scoring opportunities were witnessed. In the end it was a 44th minute goal by Zlatko Dedic that was enough to send the host through to the Finals in South Africa next year.

After the interval a much more controlled Russian side took to the field, no doubt due to some harsh words from Dutch coach Guus Hiddink. However a straight red card issued to substitute Alexander Kerzhakov for a lunge on the Slovenian keeper, further hampered the teams’ chances of overturning the situation. Towards the end of the match with only 10 men on the pitch the Russian squad lost all composure and were lucky to not concede several more times. A second yellow to Yuri Zhirkov meant that the match was out of their grasp and Guus Hiddink got a taste of his first failure in taking an international team to the World Cup Finals.

Portugal v Bosnia-Herzegovina (1-0, Portugal through 2-0)

In a one sided affair which saw Portugal progress through to the Wold Cup Finals with a 2-0 aggregate victory, after never really being tested. The first half saw Portugal take the lion’s share of possession; however attempts on goal were few and far between. Bosnia were well contained by the Portugal defence not managing to get one clear shot on goal in the first 45.

After the interval a 55th minute Raul Meireles strike put the host into the lead. With only the one shot on goal managed by the Bosnia team. The difference in class Portugal enjoyed over their opponents was evident, and an upset never looked on the cards. Cristiano Ronaldo did not participate in either of the countries two playoff legs, but will get his chance to shine on the biggest stage in football next year following two astute performances by his countrymen.

Ukraine v Greece (0-1, Greece through 1-0)

Greece triumphed in a tight match which saw the Ukraine side unlucky not to achieve something. The Greek team went into the match on par with the Ukrainian team following their 0-0 draw on Saturday.

From the outset it was the Ukrainians that dominated play pinning the Greek team back in their own half for most of the first 45. However a 32nd minute effort by Greek striker Dimitrios Salpigidis put the visitors in front at the break. After the interval Greece came out a different team, buoyed by their first half goal, finding plenty of space in the middle of the park against a heavily advancing Ukrainian team. The Ukrainian team needed to find 2 goals to overturn the away goal scored by Greece but the task seemed to difficult as Greece booked their spot in next years World Cup Finals.

Reporter : Harry Roberts   Photo : Internet   Category : Sports News

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