You’ve got to feel sorry for the Republic of Ireland after last nights match where they were cruelly knocked out of the World Cup 2010 qualifiers thanks to a Thierry Henry handball.
Ireland went into the 2nd leg of the game 1-0 behind from a Nicolas Anelka goal in the first leg played at home last week, and went level in tonights game through Robbie Keane.
Ireland played their heart out, whilst France were poor. Nicolas Anelka dived when Shay Given came out, and thankfully the referee didn’t give a penalty (yet he didn’t book Anelka for diving either). This was the first instance of cheating by the French team.
Then, late on in the first half of extra-time, Thierry Henry clearly handballed the ball twice, before laying the ball on to ex-Arsenal teammate William Gallas, who scores the winning goal for France. Just about everyone in Ireland saw the goal, including just about the whole team, yet the referee gave the goal and the assistants didn’t do anything.
It surprised me that Thierry Henry would cheat like that during a football game, I know nearly every player would probably be tempted to do the same if they were that frustrated during a match, and their World Cup campaign lays on the line, but I felt that Henry was a bit better than that. True, at the end of the game he was seen to actually be apologising or trying to comfort the Irish players who had put in so much effort over the 2 legs, but at the same time it appeared that at the time of the goal he clearly moves his hand to control the ball and stop it going out of play, it wasn’t as if it was a ball-to-hand decision, it looks as if he did it to cheat a game of football.
I don’t want to sound bitter, or Irish, or French-hating, or as if I have a personal vendetta against Thiery Henry, but it just must feel like such a harsh way to get knocked out of a competition as big as the World Cup. At least if they were beaten fairly it would be an easier pill to swollow, but right now you have got to feel sorry for the Republic of Ireland team, and the Irish people in general.