France's Henry gets hand slapped

Thu Nov 19, 2009 5:50am EST
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By Patrick Vignal

PARIS (Reuters) - Thierry Henry was compared to the great Diego Maradona, although not the way he may have wished, and coach Raymond Domenech faced further criticism after France controversially scraped past Ireland to make the World Cup.

While Ireland were understandably devastated, France were far from praised in the local media after captain Henry controversially handled the ball in the build-up to a late William Gallas goal that gave his side the edge on Wednesday.

"The hand of God," screamed a headline on 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.

The reference to Maradona's infamous hand-made goal in a 1986 World Cup quarter-final against England came after Henry controlled the ball with his hand in a crowded penalty area and crossed for Gallas to bundle home the decider on 103 minutes.

France, who had beaten Ireland 1-0 at Croke Park on Saturday, clearly struggled before their fans and Ireland were the better side.

"France have 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, under fire since he was left in charge after France's Euro 2008 flop, was far from apologetic after the game.   Continued...