It was soul destroying watching a crestfallen Damien Duff come to terms with the enormity of what had happened in extra time at the Stade de France last night.
The Fulham winger was outstanding in the second leg of the Republic’s World Cup qualifying play-off and made a mockery of the idea that his career was in decline since his Newcastle days. A terrific assist for Robbie Keane’s goal also gave the lie to the myth that he hasn’t got any pace and Duff might have scored a second away goal had it not been for excellent goalkeeping for Hugo Lloris.
There’s very little you can say about Thierry Henry’s attempts at volleyball which succeeded in propelling the ball towards William Gallas for the French winner. A man worshipped by kids around the world has sullied his reputation beyond repair. Those Gillette ads aren’t so charming now.
It’s as clear a case of cheating as you ever likely to see. While it didn’t rob Ireland of a place at the World Cup, it certainly dramatically altered the contest. The Irish had played so well and to lose to such slight of hand must be particularly galling. Any chance of a replay must be extremely remote, though. It would be interesting to see what Messrs. Plantini and Blatter have to say about this, especially after the seedings furore.