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from Reuters Soccer Blog:

France break Irish hearts to seal World Cup slot

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:

Beckham’s return to AC Milan confirmed

David Beckham will tread a familiar path once the MLS season is over, joining AC Milan on loan again for a five-month loan spell from January.

Milan have just announced the deal on their website (just in Italian for now), meaning any lingering hopes Premier League clubs had of changing the England midfielder's mind have finally been dashed.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

England sail through, but how are their World Cup chances?

So, once again, England qualify in style. The garages can start stocking up on plastic flags of St George, the breweries can breathe a sigh of relief and the tabloids can start their gradual shift from cautious support to the crescendo of expectation that will accompany Fabio Capello and his squad to South Africa next year.

But is there any evidence that "this time, more than any other time, they'll do it right"?

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