Thursday, 19 November 2009

No Luck For The Irish?

Ireland's World Cup dreams were crushed by the hand of Thierry Henry as he set up William Gallas to score the winner in extra time.

Like everyone, except maybe the French, I hate to see such a tense and close competition be won by an act rule breaking. Although in Henry's defence, I would have done the same to get my country into the World Cup, and I'm fairly sure all of the Ireland squad would have as well.

But one problem I have had with the whole incident is the reaction, with people saying that Ireland have been 'robbed' out of a place in South Africa next year. During the entire 210 minutes of football Ireland were never in the lead, and if they had taken their chances in France they wouldn't have been as hurt so badly by the goal as they would have won via the away goal rule.

As well as this Ireland were very lucky to get away with a penalty decision as it appeared that Given had tripped Anelka in the penalty area as the Frenchman had knocked the ball past the keeper. When you consider the two incidents, the French would be more likely to score from a penalty than from the position in which Henry handled the ball. Henry still had to put in a cross and someone still had to get the ball into the net.

Obviously a handball is illegal whereas a penalty is not, but the French would have a similar reaction if they had lost and were never given the penalty.

Also who is to say that the French wouldn't have scored later in extra time or won in penalties if the goal had been disallowed, against a tiring Irish squad. People seem to believe that if France hadn't scored that Ireland would have won. They fail to take into account that during the game France not only had greater possession but also that France had 11 shots in comparison to the Republic of Ireland's 6.

I must reiterate that I am not pleased that the game was won in the way that it was, or that I don't think Ireland deserved to lose. They put up a tremendous effort and were very unfortunate that neither the referee nor the linesman saw the handball. Which also again raises the question of video evidence in football and when will it be introduced.