PARIS, FRANCE - Former champions France secured their World Cup spot in controversial fashion here Wednesday after a dramatic 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland at the Stade de France.
Giovanni Trapattoni's visitors, beaten 1-0 in Dublin last Saturday in the first leg of their play-off, had taken a shock lead in the 32nd minute through Robbie Keane and the Irish were unlucky not to score more before forcing the match to extra-time.
In the first additional 15-minute spell France had an appeal for a penalty turned down after striker Nicolas Anelka tumbled to the turf under pressure in the eighth minute.
Five minutes later France skipper Thierry Henry, who had moments earlier been denied a free kick after falling to the ground 25 yards out, won the match for the hosts when his angled pass amid a goalmouth scramble was met by the head of Wiliam Gallas.
Henry's pass, however, came after the ball came off off his hand prompting a rash of immediate protests by the Irish players to the match referee, Martin Hansson.
Hansson waved away appeals allowing France to qualify and avoid a repeat of their humiliating failure, at the hands of Bulgaria, to qualify for the 1994 World Cup finals.
Ireland, especially captain Robbie Keane, had the lion's share of the chances in regulation time, and they will be kicking themselves having last qualified for the 2002 World Cup where they got to the second round.