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Its not over till the last whistle!

Many Irish believe this is the year that Ireland can make up for not qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. They almost won top spot in their group, but Italy just snatched it, so that left Ireland with a play-off against France.

Ireland fans before the game

Around 81000 people packed into Croke Park for this crucial game, and after the anthems were sung the action began. The first real chance of the game went in, but the offside flag was raised immediately, A ball over the top by Abidal found Andre-Pierre Gignac who was offside. Just before the half hour mark Ireland should’ve been ahead when a Robbie Keane shot was saved by Hugo Lloris and then the rebound was somehow missed by Liam Lawrence. Ireland would of probably been happy with a draw at half-time so Trapatoni will of told them to keep playing like they are as they seem to be more in control than France, but that was all going to change in the second half.

Straight after the kick-off France attacked, unfortunately for Les Bleus Bacary Sagna’s cross came to nothing. Ireland’s first chance of the half was started when Damien Duff’s back heel was put out for a corner by Sagna. From the corner Richard Dunne was found un-marked and he headed the ball into the danger zone where Robbie Keane was found to be offside. Shortly after that Ireland attack Lassana Diarra almost scored from 30-yards out, his stunning shot only went wide by a few inches. France were in total control, so Trapattoni brought on Coventry striker Leon Best on for Kevin Doyle.

Two minutes after the sub France were ahead, Diarra passed to Gourcuff who with his back to goal played the ball to Nicolas Anelka whose shot deflected off Sean St. Ledger and found its way into the back off the net to give France the advantage. The French had the chance to make it 2-0 when Shay Given was on the floor but Gignac’s shot was so bad it went out for a throw in. France just saw out the game and were obviously happy with a 1-0 win in Ireland. When the whistle went Ireland’s fans seemed to think they could win in France, but it also seems that the French think its all over. Then suddenly a fight started in the centre circle between the two teams. Eventually it stops but that just sums up Ireland’s day.

Anelka celebrating his goal

Something just wasn’t there in the second half from Ireland. They really need to change because if they play like that in Paris they will be destroyed. The only hope is that Eric Abidal and Jeremy Toulahan won’t be playing in Paris through injury. Giovani Trapatoni has a big challenge, and know the pressure really kicks in. Remember though, it isn’t over ’till the final whistle!

Devastated

Ireland Player Ratings

  • Given 6
  • O’Shea 7
  • St. Ledger 6
  • Dunne 6
  • Kilbane 5
  • Lawrence 6
  • Andrews 6
  • Whelan 7
  • Duff 7
  • Keane 6
  • Doyle 5

Subs

  • Best 6

France Player Ratings

  • Lloris 8
  • Sagna 6
  • Gallas 6
  • Abidal 5
  • Evra 6
  • A. Diarra 6
  • L. Diarra 8
  • Gourcuff 4
  • Anelka 8
  • Henry 7
  • Gignac 6

Man Of The Match: Nicolas Anelka (France)

Nicolas Anelka Picture

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