I think all those watching on television and live in Paris would love to say in French to a spirited and literally fantastic Republic of Ireland team: chapeau bas.
Ireland went into the match against the mighty France in the worst conditions possible. They had lost on their own home soil and they had to travel to Paris to face world-class opponents.
But instead of panicking, Giovanni Trapattoni's men had the guts to put the French into a tough challenge and a truly classy competition was held. It was evident throughout the match in Paris that "the Irish were coming" close to victory.
After a 1-0 result in the first leg in Dublin with France scoring through a deflected Nicolas Anelka shot that found its way to the net somehow, France got lucky again tonight.
Robbie Keane had initially gotten Ireland the lead when "the hand of Henry" followed an outrageous mistake from the referee contributed to a late France goal. The goal—scored by William Gallas—did just enough to seal the qualification for France.
But what I personally saw on the pitch was a heroic performance by the inferior Irish players. Their misfortune twisted their fates as they could—and probably should—have secured a famous win.
What strikes me is the amount of danger Ireland caused to a world-class team with quality players on the pitch and on the bench.
What's missing France is a quality coach. Raymond Domenech is arguably one of the worst influences on a football team in modern times.
Domenech's team could not pose threat to a much weaker Ireland team. France were unable to possess the ball for long terms and could not be creative over two matches.
France scored two goals against Ireland in the two legs.
The first goal came from a lucky deflection. The second goal featured an incident that should have clearly been whistled as a handball. Initially, the chance came from a cross from the middle of the pitch from a foul in favor of France.
So during two matches, we did not see the mighty France we usually know. We could not see a side that challenge for the World Cup. Much like Real Madrid in the first galacticos era, we only saw big names and lost players on the pitch.
Domenech has actually reduced the roosters of France to chicks.
Our respects to a courageous Republic of Ireland team that has made every Irish man proud with a fantastic performance. Despite the failure to qualify, the team played brilliantly.
Trapattoni did a fantastic job getting the best of the Irish players who had failed to bring good results in the last couple of years.
And to Shay Given: yes that handball should have been given!
I understand the frustration after this game because of the terrible refereeing in the incident, but France will be going to the World Cup.
It is still unknown to me however, whether the French are lucky to qualify or they are unlucky that they are going into another major competition with Domenech at the helm of their national team.