Thursday, November 18, 2010

18 November 2009 - Henry's Hand Gives Ireland The Finger

On 18 November 2009, France secured their place at the 2010 World Cup thanks to one of football's most controversial goals.

Facing Ireland in a playoff after both finished second in their respective qualification groups, France were heavily favored to advance. They won the first leg in Dublin, 0-1, so that they needed only a draw in Paris to advance. But a 32nd-minute goal from Irish striker Robbie Keane put the visitors ahead. Les Bleus desperately searched for an equalizer, but were repeatedly denied by the brilliant play of keeper Shay Given.

With the sides level at 1-1 on aggregate at the end of regulation, the match went into extra time, when a Florent Malouda free kick found forward Thierry Henry in the box. Henry clearly controlled the ball with his left arm, before centering it for defender William Gallas, who knocked it home. Given and the other Irish players immediately protested, but the referee allowed the goal to stand.

Time then expired with Ireland unable to find another goal, so France won 2-1 on aggregate. After the match, Henry admitted to using his hand, but downplayed his responsibility, saying "I'm not the ref." Ireland petitioned FIFA for a replay, but were denied.

Although frustrated by the loss, Irish supporters took a measure of solace from France's poor World Cup performance, as Les Bleus managed only one draw and two losses and were eliminated in the group stage.

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