VIDEO: France rob Ireland with the Hand of Henry; Slovenia claim major scalp of Russia; Portugal beat Bosnia; Algeria claim historic Egypt win to claim their place at the World Cup; Greece edge Ukraine to qualify

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France 1 – Ireland 1 (Agg. 2-1) (2010 World Cup playoff, November 18, 2009) Ireland were fantastic from the start of their match in Paris, and in the 33rd minute their reaped their due rewards as an incisive move from Damien Duff down the left was finished by Robbie Keane’s finish into the far corner. Damien Duff had the chance to put the game out of sight early in the second half but the Fulham man fluffed his opportunity with a weak right foot shot at Lloris. The match was forced into extra time, where controversy struck in the 102nd minute as Thierry Henry handled the ball on the Irish touchline before his cross was nodded in by William Gallas.

Slovenia 1* – Russia 0 (Agg. 2-2) (2010 World Cup playoff, November 18, 2009) 2-1 up from the first leg, the Russians were left breathing a sigh of relief after 13 minutes in Slovenia and a cross which cannoned off a defender lucky rebounded off the post. On the stroke of halftime the home crowd went wild, a cross from the left was converted by the stray leg of Zlatko Dedic and the Slovenians went bananas. Alexander Kerzhakov crippled Russia’s chances by getting himself sent off for kicking out at home keeper Handanovic after spurning a goalscoring opportunity. Slovenia qualified on away goals.

Bosnia 0 – Portugal 1 (Agg. 0-2) (2010 World Cup playoff, November 18, 2009) A single away goal from Raul Meireles ten minutes into the second half, a low strike in the bottom corner, confirmed Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo’s place at the World Cup.

Algeria 1 – Egypt 0 (2010 World Cup playoff, November 18, 2009) In a powder-keg atmosphere in Sudan, it only took three minutes for a brawl to break out between Algeria and Egypt and then just a minute later Hany Said saw his header saved by the Algerian keeper. On the quarter hour Algeria then saw Antar Yahia’s effort saved off the line following Ziani’s free-kick, and later in the half Egyptian keeper El Hadary was forced to tip over a difficult free-kick from underneath his bar. Five minutes before the break, after Egypt had looked in control, the Algerians went berserk as Antar Yahia met a cross at the back stick and smacked home a cracker from an acute angle. (First half highlights here.) A superb save from El Hadary to keep out Ghezzal’s header kept Egypt in the game on the hour, and minutes later Algeria had keeper Chaouchi to thank after saving a point-blank shot from Emad Metoeb. Algeria held on to qualify for their first World Cup since 1986 amid wild post match celebrations.

Ukraine 0 – Greece 1 (Agg. 0-1) (2010 World Cup playoff, November 18, 2009) After their goalless first leg, Greece struck first in the Ukraine to claim a crucial away goal as Dimitris Salpigidis was found through the middle and the striker coolly slotted in the opener.

Uruguay 1 – Costa Rica 1 (Agg. 2-1) (2010 World Cup playoff, November 18, 2009) Substitute Sebastien Abreu settled Uruguay’s nerves with the opener on 70 minutes. Five minutes later Costa Rica pulled one back through Walter Centeno but the home side held on to secure a place in South Africa.

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Austria 1 – Spain 5 (International Friendly, November 18, 2009) Jakob Jantscher got Austria off to a dream start stroking home the opener from just inside the Spanish box. The lead was short lived as Cesc Fabregas weaved his way through the home defence to equalise and ten minutes later David Villa put the European Champions in the lead. On the stroke of halftime Villa applied a deft touch to a cross to neatly tuck in Spain’s third into the near post. Daniel Guiza and Pablo Hernandez netted after the break as Spain ran out comfortable winners.

Germany 2 – Ivory Coast 2 (International Friendly, November 18, 2009) An 11th minute penalty from Lukas Podolski handed the Germans the lead over the Ivory Coast. The Africans equalised in bizarre circumstances as Manuel Neuer had the misfortune of seeing his attempted clearance smack off of Emmanuel Eboue and into the net. Red-hot Young Boys striker Seydou Doumbia blasted the Ivorians into an 85th minute lead, but at the death Lukas Podolski popped up to net his second of the game to make it honours-even.

Italy 1 – Sweden 0 (International Friendly, November 18, 2009) Giorgio Chiellini bundled a cross to fire Italy into the lead over Sweden. (First half highlights here.)

Holland 0 – Paraguay 0 (International Friendly, November 18, 2009) A solid performance from Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar ensured their friendly meeting with Holland in Heerenveen ended in a lacklustre goalless draw. Neither side were at their best in a match woefully short of attacking flair, but Holland may have edged the contest had Villar not kept out a handful of decent efforts from the hosts.

Denmark 3 – United States 1 (International Friendly, November 18, 2009) Slack defending in the Danish backline allowed Jeff Cunningham to score his first goal for the United States. Johan Absalonsen levelled two minutes into the second period and two goals in three minutes from Soren Rieks (52) and Martin Bernburg (55) put them in control.

Montenegro 1 – Belarus 0 (International Friendly, November 18, 2009) Mirko Vucinic scored a late goal to give Montenegro victory, the Roma striker found the net in the 81st minute with a header from a cross by Nikola Drincic.

Poland 1 – Canada 0 (International Friendly, November 18, 2009) Poland picked up a rare win in their current dismal state thanks to a fine shot on the turn from Maciej Rybus after 19 minutes.

Iran 1 – Macedonia 1 (International Friendly, November 18, 2009) Fulham’s Anderanik Teymourian slotted the Iranians into a 35th minute lead, Goran Pandev equalised for the visitors with a header early in the second half.

South Korea 0 – Serbia 1 (International Friendly, November 18, 2009) Giant Serb striker Nikola Zigic toe-poked a 6th minute cross to give the Eastern Europeans the win.

Iraq 1 – United Arab Emirates 0 (International Friendly, November 18, 2009) A brave header from Mahdi Karim under pressure from an all-committing UAE keeper earned Iraq victory.

Honduras 1 – Peru 2 (International Friendly, November 18, 2009) Peru took the lead when Damian Ismodes whipped in a cross from Peru’s left flank and Honduras defender Emilio Izaguirre sent a stooping header into his net. Honduras hit back two minutes after the break with a classy finish from striker David Suazo, who raced onto a defence-splitting pass from Ramon Nunez, rounded the keeper and slotted home. Ismodes provided another incisive cross in the 65th minute though, allowing Rainer Torres to leap above Honduras keeper Noel Valladares and head in the winner.

Denmark 1 – Serbia 3 (U21 International Friendly, November 18, 2009) Ajax’s Miralem Sulejmani struck twice in the opening 25 minutes as the visitors took control at the Lyngby Stadium. Mike Jensen pulled one back from the penalty spot before halftime, yet Marko Scepovic’s effort 14 minutes from time dealt Nicki Bille Nielsen’s charges a 3-1 defeat, their fourth in six outings.

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Lithuania 0 – England 0 (European U21 Championship Qualifiers, November 17, 2009) England should hav ewon the match after Newcastle forward Andy Carroll hit the crossbar from close range after having sidestepped the goalkeeper.

Slovakia 1 – Croatia 2 (European U21 Championship Qualifiers, November 18, 2009)

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Barcelona 4 – Bolivar 1 (Friendly, November 17, 2009) The training match was made significant by the long awaited return to action for Gabriel Milito. The Argentine defender finally returned to action after 18 months on the sidelines after damaging the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the Champions League semi-final against Manchester United at Old Trafford, playing the first 45 minutes of Barcelona’s friendly match against Bolivar.

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Hong Kong 0 – Japan 4 (Asian Cup qualifier, November 18, 2009) Makoto Hasebe lashed a fierce right-foot shot into the top corner to put the visitors ahead in the 32nd minute. Japan added a second goal in the 74th through a header from Hisato Sato before Shunsuke Nakamura curled in a cheeky near-post free-kick 10 minutes later. Shinji Okazaki converted a penalty in the last minute for his 15th goal in 20 internationals to wrap up the win.

Thailand 0 – Singapore 1 (Asian Cup qualifier, November 18, 2009) Aleksander Duric’s first half header gave Singapore the winning goal in Bangkok.

Indonesia 1 – Kuwait 1 (Asian Cup qualifier, November 18, 2009) Budi Sudarsono volleyed the hosts ahead on the stroke of halftime, but matters took a turn for the worse for Indonesia seven minutes after the restart as Ismed Sofian was sent off for a bad tackle. Kuwait equalised with 19 minutes remaining as star striker Ahmed Ajab got on the end of a cross to score at the back post.

Syria 0 – Vietnam 0 (Asian Cup qualifier, November 18, 2009)

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Gremio 2 – Palmeiras 0 (Campeonato Brasileiro, November 18, 2009) Gremio’s first goal came in the stoppage time of the first half as Palmeiras keeper Marcos was able to keep out a shot from Maxi Lopes and Rafael Marques was on hand to score the rebound. Gremio‘s second goal came in the 70th minute as Maxi Lopes dribbled between two defenders and blew the ball past Marcos.

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Fluminense 2 – Cerro Porteno 1 (Copa Sudamericana, November 18, 2009) (Agg. 3-1) Cerro Porteno, a 1-0 loser at home last week in the first leg of the semifinals, scored after only six minutes when midfielder Luis Caceres converted a cross from striker Cesar Ramirez which deflected in off a Fluminense defender. The score stayed that way until two minutes into second half injury-time when defender Gum struck home, and three minutes later Alan dramatically made it 2-1. That sparked a vicious 22-man brawl between Fluminense and Cerro Porteno players at the final whistle which needed the armed police to step in an break up the fighting.


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