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Zinedine Zidane had returned to the first international turf as a starting member since EURO 2004 in Portugal. Although the Real Madrid star fired a superb curling ball which was pushed out by Irish goalkeeper Shay Given in early time of the first half, it was not French No. 10 who saved France on that night, but Thierry Henry.

On that night in Dublin, Brian Kerr's men fought to defend well to stop the Frenchmen's ball. The Arsenal striker had only a situation unmarked with a ball and never failed to carry it into the right side net in the second half. It was time when powerful green defences were becoming tired to drive back blue attacks. France deserved a valuable away win over Republic of Ireland to get a step to qualify the European group 4 of FIFA World Cup Germany 2006, in which les bleus moved to the top with Switzerland.

Raymond Domenech selected Claude Makelele's return as well as Zidane. The Chelsea midfielder mostly contributed to the team, I thought, to be more indispensable for it than any other players. But Makelele and Zidane are veteran players. It comes time not to be able to pick them up a couple of years later. For France, the slection is good for long, I wish it strongly.

match result:

FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 Qualifier in Europe
Group 4 at Lansdowne Road in Dublin (7 Sep)

France 1-0 Ireland Rep.


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