France lead five more qualifiers into World Cup

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Báo Tuổi Trẻ English - 101 month(s) ago 4 readings

France lead five more qualifiers into World Cup

France, with a controversial extra-time goal from William Gallas, squeezed into the World Cup finals despite failing to beat Ireland in Paris while Slovenia upset Russia on a nailbiting night of qualifiers on Wednesday.

A France team fan celebrates their win against Ireland with a banner which reads, 'Alright, We're Going" in their World Cup qualifying playoff return leg match at the Stade de France stadium November 18


France progressed after a 1-1 draw with Ireland gave the 2006 finalists a 2-1 aggregate victory but they needed Gallas's close-range goal -- after a blatant Thierry Henry handball in the build-up -- to win the tie.

They go through to next year's extravaganza in South Africa along with Slovenia, Greece, Portugal and Algeria, who beat arch rivals Egypt 1-0 in neutral Sudan to win a tense sudden-death playoff to secure the final African qualifying berth.

The 32nd and last finalist will be decided early on Thursday morning when Uruguay meet Costa Rica in the second leg of the South American/CONCACAF playoff in Montevideo. Uruguay won the first leg 1-0 at the weekend.

France fell behind to a battling Irish side who scored through skipper Robbie Keane after 33 minutes.

They only equalized 13 minutes into extra time when Gallas scored, helped by Henry controlling the ball with his hand in a crowded penalty area and then crossing for the defender to bundle home.

Russia punished

Unlike Ireland, Slovenia managed to clinch an upset by knocking out Russia who paid a heavy price for not wrapping up the first leg on Saturday when they allowed Slovenia a late goal in a 2-1 win.

Russia's late lapse proved costly in Maribor as Zlatko Dedic scored the only goal just before the break.

That was enough to give Slovenia the tie on the away goals rule as they reached the World Cup finals for the second time since joining FIFA as an independent nation in 1992.

Russia finished with nine men after substitute Alexander Kerzhakov and Yuri Zhirkov were sent off.

The defeat also denied Russia's Dutch coach Guus Hiddink a fourth appearance in the finals after coaching his native Netherlands in the 1998 World Cup, South Korea in 2002 and Australia in 2006.

Greek upset

Greece, held to a 0-0 draw by Ukraine in Athens on Saturday, went to Donetsk as underdogs, but stunned the home team by winning with a first-half goal from Dimitris Salpigidis.

Striker Giorgos Samaras supplied the pass in the 32nd minute for Salpigidis who sent Greece to the World Cup for only the second time after their debut appearance in the U.S. in 1994.

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel thanked the gods after their victory, telling reporters: "Our boys were rewarded today for an unbelievable passion and fighting spirit. We said that no road should be too far and before you have success you have to have the gods sweating for you."

Rehhagel, who took charge of Greece in 2001, has now steered the 2004 European champions to one World Cup and two European championships in his eight years at the helm and will be involved in the World Cup for the first time in his 50-year football career.

Portugal through

Portugal clinched their place 2-0 on aggregate, following up Saturday's 1-0 home win over Bosnia with another 1-0 win thanks to midfielder Raul Meireles who silenced a raucous 15,000 home fans in cauldron of the Bilino Polje stadium after 56 minutes.

Bosnia's Sejad Salihovic was sent off for dissent in the 76th minute.

Algeria booked their place when defender Antar Yahia scored five minutes before halftime with a stunning half-volley against Egypt.

The match was littered with fouls, but despite the high stakes, it was completed without major incident.

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