Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

France break Irish hearts to seal World Cup slot

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France ensured the likes of Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Thierry Henry will be at the World Cup in South Africa next year after winning through with a goal that has left Irish fans seething.

There was nothing wrong with the finish from William Gallas, but Thierry Henry admitted using his hand to keep the ball in play and commentators and Irish supporters are already talking of "The Hand of God II" and "The Hand of Henry" in reference to Diego Maradona in 1986.

"Yes, there is handball but I am not the referee," Henry told reporters. "I'm in the box, there are two defenders in front of me. The ball bounced off my hand, the referee did not see it and I played on."

Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni called the goal a "great mistake" by Swedish referee Martin Hansson but he chose not to accuse Henry of cheating.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

World Cup live blog

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From 1730 GMT.************

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

World Cup playoff draw – your views

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Draw for the European World Cup playoffs:

Republic of Ireland v France
Portugal v Bosnia-Herzegovina
Greece v Ukraine
Russia v Slovenia

Two-legged ties to be played on Nov 14 and 18.

Is that the sound of a World Cup playoff shock I hear? France, 2006 runners-up, will have to beat Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland over two legs to reach South Africa next year and that is no easy feat.

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