07.09.2005 at 19:45 Lansdowne Road
Republic of Ireland
0 - 1
Referee: Mr. Herbert Fandel (Germany).
World Cup Qualifier / Prog-match
Wednesday 7th Sept 2005
Thierry Henry decided a rip-roaring World Cup tie at Lansdowne Road with a magnificent goal in the 68th minute that silenced a highly motivated 36,000 spectators.
A hugely entertaining contest was too vigorously contested to allow for flowing football but the entertainment value was high with Ireland injecting huge energy and commitment in an emotional atmosphere.
Ireland dominated possession in the second half of the game but lacked the penetration needed to create a clear-cut scoring opportunity against a French defence that was led in masterly fashion by the vastly experienced Juventus defender Lilian Thuram.
The controlled play of the French back four was decisive for there was precious little to choose between two highly energised and determined teams. Ireland just could not set up Robbie Keane or Clinton Morrison for the strike that might have given Ireland the win they craved.
Instead it was a moment’s inspiration from Henry that decided it. He had a relatively quiet match and was dominated by Richard Dunne and Kenny Cunningham.
Yet he was coolness personified in the 68th minute when he won possession in front of the Irish goal. He was 22 yards from goal and produced a trademark strike by swerving a right-foot shot beyond the reach of the diving Shay Given and just inside the upright.
Shay Given brought the capacity crowd of 36,000 to their feet with a spectacular save from Zinedine Zidane’s explosive free kick eight minutes into a tie that kicked-off in a highly emotional atmosphere.
The tension of the occasion was evident in the fanatical support of an expectant home following who sang both National Anthems with a fervour that was remarkable even in a stadium accustomed to the big occasion.
The importance of the points at stake in the tightest qualifying contest of the current competition was clearly obvious. The high tempo of the early play and the decibel noise created by the committed home fans made for a contest that fairly throbbed with intensity.
France attempted to douse the early fire of Ireland’s football by retaining possession and the anxiety of Ireland’s attempts to win possesion saw Richard Dunne trip Thierry Henry 25 yards from the Irish goal after eight minutes.
Zidane’s free kick looked set for the top corner when Shay Given threw himself across the goal line and clawed the ball away at full stretch to the acclaim of the relieved Irish fans.
It was Ireland’s turn to threaten the French goal when they won a free 22 yards from goal five minutes later. Andy Reid’s clever free kick spun around the wall of defenders and clipped the outside of the upright and wide as the crowd gasped in disbelief.
It was fast, it was furious, it was hugely exciting as Ireland had substantial claims for a penalty turned down in the 17th minute when Lilian Thuram appeared to clip Robbie Keane’s ankles as he closed on a back-heeled pass from Clinton Morrison and Morrison himself was narrowly wide from Robbie Keane’s pass a minute later as Ireland exerted pressure on the French goal.
France succeeded in keeping the ball for lengthy periods in midfield where their support of the man in possession always meant he had options when challenged.
Ireland were more direct and positive in their search for scoring opportunities with Clinton Morrison’s determination to make an impact leading him into confrontation with the German referee who brandished a yellow card at the Irish striker for an early challenge on Thuram.
Morrison and Robbie Keane represented a more energetic strike force than that mounted by the French and they were close again in the 22nd minute when Damien Duff’s cross from the left was dummied by Morrison and Robbie Keane saw his shot deflected by Boumsong for a corner.
Ireland ensured that France could never penetrate by grouping closely in front of their own penalty area whenever France came over the half-way line.
Wingers Andy Reid and Duff tucked in tightly and with Roy Keane and Kevin Kilbane offering cover to centre-backs Richard Dunne and Kenny Cunningham, France were never given a clear sight of goal, despite winning a lot of possession.
It was Ireland again who threatened in the 35th minute when Roy Keane rolled a free that was 28 yards from goal across the middle of the pitch for Stephen Carr to hit a powerful shot at goal that was deflected outside for a corner as Ireland continued to force the pace.
The pressure that was put on the player in possession by the opposition was immense as two proud teams battled with a will for an edge. The game was too highly competitive to allow for measured football.
This suited Ireland admirably for their spirited attacking play drew strength and resolve from the support of the excited fans.
This application led to a yellow card for France’s right-back Willy Sagnol in the 36th minute in a decision that was question by France’s captain, Zidane.
Ireland’s Roy Keane was the next name in the referee’s book. He was shown a yellow card in the 41st minute when he clattered into Claude Makelele and as he already had a yellow card from a previous, he will now miss the game against Cyprus next month.
France ended the first half in aggressive mood when Patrick Vieira ran on to an Irish headed clearance in the 42nd minute and released a left foot volley from 22 yards that flew narrowly outside Shay Given’s left-hand post.
Half-time and the teams were level 0-0.
Ireland were positive immediately from the kick-off when Kilbane forcing Vieira to conceded a free 30 yards from goal. Richard Dunne rose high to meet Andy Reid’s free but his header from 12 yards carried over.
Suddenly a very tight contest opened as France, especially, showed signs of tiredness. The intensity of the opening 45 minutes clearly had taken a toll of both teams’ energy and players began to find space where earlier there had been none.
Damien Duff illustrated that with a sniping run that took him inside Sagnol that led to a shot deflected outside. And in the 54th minute Kilbane rifled a pass into the space between centre-back Thuram and Sagnol which release Duff.
Just as he prepared to shoot, however, the outstanding Thuram got back to smother the ball and concede a corner kick.
The German referee refused to tolerate anything that was remotely questionable when it came to a tackle and Ireland suffered in the 60th minute when Stephen Carr was shown a yellow card for a tackle on Dhorasoo.
Another booking followed for Andy Reid when he tackled Boumsong from behind and a sequence of play that was repeatedly checked by the referee’s whistle also included a booking for Zidane for a tackle from behind on Richard Dunne.
The result of the books meant that Ireland will face Cyprus in their next match without Morrison, Roy Keane and Reid.
There was more serious bad news for Ireland after 68 minutes when France produced a goal that brought an eerie hush to the stadium.
The goal was a tribute to Thierry Henry’s cerebral finishing ability for it resulted from a single moment of inspiration. He won possession from a scramble 22 yards from goal and found the space to swerve a right-foot shot outside Shay Given’s reach and just inside the upright.
It was a typical piece of artistry from Henry and all the more surprising given the context of an explosive contest because until then he had scarcely figured. France immediately reacted by withdrawing Zidane and bringing in Florent Malouda into midfield.
Ireland rang the changes as well with Gary Doherty and Ian Harte coming into the action for the closing ten minutes but despite their best efforts, Ireland could not find a clear path to Coupet's goal and with Switzerland winning against Cyprus, Ireland now have a more difficult task on hands in their remaining two games against Cyprus and Switzerland.
Adding to Irish misery was the rash of yellow cards which will rule Morrison, Roy Keane, and Reid out of Ireland's game against the Cypriots. Now, the odds are really stacked against them.
France dented Republic of Ireland's World Cup hopes with a priceless 1-0 win at Lansdowne Road.
Thierry Henry's sublime second half goal was enough to give France all three points and put them in the driving position in Group Four.
The defeat was harsh on Ireland as they more than held their own against France, but Henry's individual class proved to be the difference between both sides.
The home side signalled their attacking intentions right from the first whistle with Andy Reid firing a shot over the crossbar in the opening 15 seconds.
France came close to breaking the deadlock with their first attack of the game on eight minutes when Henry won a free kick right on the edge of the box after being fouled by Richard Dunne.
Zinedine Zidane curled a sublime effort towards the top corner, but Shay Given produced a brilliant save to claw out the Real Madrid man's effort.
Clinton Morrison picked up a booking a minute later for a late challenge on Lilian Thuram which rules him out of the next qualifier against Cyprus.
Ireland were inches away from scoring on 13 minutes when Reid was unlucky to see his free kick from the edge of the box clip the post with Gregory Coupet well beaten in the France goal.
The home side had claims for penalty turned down on 16 minutes when Robbie Keane intercepted a pass from Thuram and burst into the box before going down under pressure from Thuram, but referee Herbert Fandel waved away their appeals.
Two minutes later Ireland had another great chance to break the deadlock when Jean-Alain Boumsong and Thuram failed to deal with a long clearance from Given and Robbie Keane flicked the bal into the path of Morrison and he was unlucky to see his lifted shot just fly wide of the target.
Claude Makelele fashioned a chance for himself in a rare foray forward when he evaded the challenge of Roy Keane in midfield before powering forward and firing a left-footed shot just wide.
Morrison almost got in on goal on 25 minutes from Stephen Carr's cross and Boumsong's hurried clearance to deny Morrison forced Coupet into a good save.
Ireland continued to pile the pressure on France and Carr saw a dangerous free kick from the edge of the area blocked by Willy Sagnol.
Sagnol picked up a costly booking on 37 minutes when he hauled down Damien Duff which ruled him out of the next qualifier with Switzerland.
Ireland suffered a blow four minutes before the break when Roy Keane was booked for a foul on Makelele which means the Manchester United man will miss next month's trip to Cyprus.
France had the last chance of the half when Patrick Vieira picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box and strode forward unchallenged before fizzing his shot just wide.
Dunne wasted a good opening a minute after the break when he ghosted unmarked into the box to meet Reid's free kick, but he headed his effort harmlessly over the top.
France were beginning to assert more control of the game in midfield with Zidane showing his class, but Ireland were restricting them from creating any real opportunities.
The home side suffered a further suspension blow on 64 minutes when Reid picked up a booking for a foul on Boumsong which made him the third Irish player to be ruled out of the Cyprus game.
France made the breakthrough on 68 minutes with a brilliant individual goal from Henry.
There looked very little danger when Henry picked up the ball from Sylvain Wiltord 25 yards from goal, but the Arsenal man produced a sublime curling shot from the edge of the area into the top corner past a despairing dive from Given.
Ireland tried to respond and Robbie Keane saw a left-footed shot from the edge of the area well saved by Coupet.
The home side poured forward in search of an equaliser, but France held on to take all three points and put them on the road to World Cup qualification.