Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The hand of God II? No, Thierry, it's your Waterloo, you're just a common cheat.

AT the last count, there were 4,459,547 people in the Republic of Ireland. France, on the other hand, boasts 62,048,473 garlic-eating surrenderers. That's what my grand-dad Poppa Sam from Dublin always said, anyway.
I've never minded the French. But there is an older generation who never forgave them. Said they put their hands up too quickly in the 1940s.
You could understand why last night when Thierry Henry all but caught the ball to provide William Gallas with the goal which put the Irish out of the World Cup. Arsenal fans might call Henry's actions the Hand of God II, but his demonic intervention will not be swiftly forgotten, just ask Diego Maradona. It's not clever. It's cheating. I'm sure he'll try to justify it, but sorry Thierry, there is no way this was an accident or a reflex, it was just WRONG.
Florent Malouda's free-kick was clearly going out of play late in the first period of extra-time when Henry used his left arm - not once but twice - to keep the ball in before playing in Gallas for the point-blank winner which made it 1-1 on the night. Oh, and the whole move looked suspiciously offside from the moment the free-kick was taken.
The last tango in Paris for controversial French boss Raymond Domenech should have been inspired by Robbie Keane's perfectly legitimate goal, set up when Kevin Kilbane freed Damien Duff with a lovely first-time pass. Duff's inch-perfect cut-back was comfortably stuck away by Spurs striker Keane to level the World Cup play-off after Nicolas Anelka scored the only goal at Croke Park, Dublin on Saturday.
When Anelka looked like doing it again eight minutes into extra-time, Shay Given came out and looked like he scythed the Chelsea man down. The Stade Francais crowd, apart from the 25,000 in green who had made the trip, universally saw it that way. Fortunately referee Martin Hansson reckoned minimal contact had been made. Goal-kick. Phew. And the unbooked Anelka barely complained. But any gratitude towards the Swedish ref was soon ruined by his failure to spot Henry's basketballing intervention minutes later. Digusting. Henry, you've lost a million admirers.
Oh, Portugal are through without the help of the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, they won 1-0 in Bosnia thanks to Raul Meireles to go through 2-0 on aggregate. Russia, with Andrey Arshavin's men down to nine, failed against Slovenia, going down 1-0 to go out on away goals in a 2-2 aggregate finish. Greece won 1-0 in the Ukraine to go through, so we've probably seen the last of Andrei Shevchenko.
Result of the night? That would be Algeria beating Egypt 1-0 in a hastily arranged play-off after the two North African giants finished level on all fronts at the top of their qualifying group. Antar Yahia got the only goal at the completely bonkers El Merreikh stadium in Khartoum, where 15,000 police were on duty. There were all-night parties in London's Finsbury Park as every Algerian celebrated reaching the finals for the first time since Mexico 86.
So how about the less warlike games outside of the World Cup qualifiers? David Villa scored twice as unbeatable Spain beat Austria 5-1 in Vienna. Lukas Podolski scored two as Germany - mourning the suicide of goalkeeper Robert Enke - drew 2-2 with Ivory Coast. Italy beat Sweden 1-0, the Netherlands and Paraguay drew 0-0.
Angola and Ghana also failed to create a goal, Italy saw off Sweden 1-0 and the mighty USA, seller of the most tickets for South Africa next year, went down 3-1 in Denmark. At Fulham's Craven Cottage, World Cup qualifiers South Korea were beaten 1-0 by Serbia.
And Brighton beat woeful Wycombe 2-0 to reach the FA Cup second round.


  1. Classic tabloid xenophobic generalisation. Surprised you didn't get a reference to Waterloo in there.

  2. I just did... and I used to be Thierry's greatest fan!