France break Irish hearts as Slovenia stun Russia in play-offs

France secured their qualification with a controversial 2-1 aggregate victory over Republic of Ireland after extra time. The Irish had the better of normal time and took the lead through Robbie Keane in the 33rd after a pull back from Damien Duff.

Ireland had the better of the chances but couldn’t find a winner and the game went into extra time. France scored the winner in the 103rd minute when Thierry Henry appeared to have handled the ball twice in the penalty area before finding William Gallas who headed home from close range. The Irish appealed but the goal stood and it’s the French who will be heading to South Africa next summer.

Greece have progressed to next year’s World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Ukraine in Donetsk in the World Cup play-off. The only goal of the game came in the 31st minute. Celtic striker Giorgis Samaras played a lovely ball into strike partner Dimitris Salpigidis who fired past Andrei Piatov in the Ukraine goal.

Slovenia have qualified for next year’s World Cup after beating Russia 1-0 in Maribor and going through on away goals with an aggregate score of 2-2. The only goal came in the 44th minute as Zlatko Dedic latched onto a superb cross from right to fire past Igor Akinfeev in the Russia goal.

In truth the Slovenians deserved their lead. The home side continued to dominate and Russia’s frustration got to them as substitute Alexander Kerzhakov was dismissed for kicking the Slovenian keeper. Russia finished the game with nine men as Chelsea winger Yury Zhirkov picked up a stupid second yellow card. An awful night for Russia will see the Slovenians head to South Africa next summer.

Portugal have qualified for next year’s World Cup after winning 1-0 in Bosnia and took the aggregate score to 2-0. Portugal scored the only goal of the game in the 55th minute through midfielder Raul Meireles. The home side struggled to get back into the tie and were reduced to ten men in the 77th minute as Sejad Salihovic was sent-off.

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