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Nov 14, 2009

Victorious Domenech denies Henry bust-up

Robbie Keane insists the Republic of Ireland must retain their self-belief if they are to stand any chance of realising their World Cup dream.

•  Ireland 0-1 France
•  Maher: Irish dream not over yet

French media had suggested the pair had a difference of opinion at the team hotel this morning over Patrick Vieira's absence from his squad. However, asked about it after is side's 1-0 win at Croke Park, Domenech replied: "I always speak with Thierry Henry before any match. He's the captain of the team. We always have discussions and this time, light came from those discussions.''

Whatever did happen, Domenech and his players left Dublin in the driving seat. Nicolas Anelka's 72nd-minute strike handed the French a vital lead and a precious away goal to take into the second leg at the Stade de France. However, his manager was at pains to stress that the tie is far from over as he prepared to head home.

He said: "We are only halfway through. I don't know what's going to happen, but I feel determined. The objective here is to qualify. There are 180 minutes - we have done 90 minutes, we have 90 minutes still to go.

"The Irish team is very much able to play, to impose themselves and to react, and we must be vigilant. Obviously, I prefer to be 1-0 up, but the only satisfaction at this point is to qualify.''

Domenech was a happy man after seeing his side dominate in front of a packed house of 74,103 at Croke Park, particularly after the break. But it was left to Anelka to clinch the win with 18 minutes remaining when his shot was deflected past keeper Shay Given by the unfortunate Sean St Ledger.

Striker Andre-Pierre Gignac really should have doubled his side's advantage after being presented with on open goal 10 minutes from time, and France keeper Hugo Lloris twice had to deny Glenn Whelan at the death as the Republic produced a late fightback.

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni felt his side deserved more out of the game, but insisted the tie remains very much alive. He said: "We are a little bit disappointed because for me, the right result was a draw.

"We know how strong France are with the players they have, but we have our quality, our discipline, our mentality and in the first half, the right result for me was a draw. In the second half, there was a deflection and we conceded a goal. For 10 minutes, we were a little bit disappointed and we lost our trust in ourselves.

"But we had a good reaction and we could have scored a goal through Whelan. It was not an easy chance, but he was in front of the goalkeeper and it would have been right had we scored that goal. But we have played 90 minutes and that is the only the first half. We have the second half in Paris. Maybe we will have the same game in Paris and we will get the deflection.''

Meanwhile, Trapattoni claimed a melee on the final whistle, which appeared to spiral from a spat between Lassana Diarra and Keith Andrews, was the result of a French player "insulting the Irish people'', but insisted he would not be making any complaint over it.

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