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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 October, 2004, 20:54 GMT 21:54 UK
France 0-0 Rep of Ireland

Robert Pires and Steve Finnan have an aerial duel
The Republic of Ireland produced a superb display to hold France to a scoreless draw in Saturday's World Cup qualifier at the Stade de France.

Brian Kerr's team were the better side in the first half and Clinton Morrison twice went close for the visitors.

France improved late in the first half and Shay Given denied Robert Pires.

William Gallas went close for France after half-time before Robbie Keane and John O'Shea missed Irish chances but Given saved a late Thierry Henry shot.

The Irish made a bright start and a pinpoint pass from Roy Keane almost put Morrison through on goal in the second minute but Barthez moved smartly off his line to avert the danger.

France threatened for the first time in the seventh minute when Pires ran at Stephen Carr but the Irish full-back made a perfectly judged tackle on the edge of his own penalty area.

Kevin Kilbane had the first shot on goal in the 11th minute but his shot was blocked by Rio Mavuba.

The Irish then had a moment of danger when Carr's header put Given in danger but the Newcastle goalkeeper managed to touch the ball wide.

As the visitors continued to show the greater fluency with Roy Keane excellent in midfield, Morrison had a chance in the 28th minute but his header was a yard wide of Barthez's goal.

Robbie Keane then set up a half-chance for Damien Duff in the French area but Gallas got in a vital block.

The French hit the Irish on the break in the 34th minute but Given was able to gather Gallas' fierce drive at the second attempt.

Robbie Keane is hustled out of possession by Sebastien Squillaci
Robbie Keane tries to get the better of Sebastien Squillaci

Given then came to Ireland's rescue with a superb save to deny Pires in the 37th minute after the French had produced their first genuine moment of quality in the game.

The Irish then suffered a blow when the lively Morrison was forced off because of a knee injury which meant the introduction of Andy Reid.

Both teams had chances in the five minutes after half-time with Reid's shot troubling Barthez after Kilbane had won the ball in midfield and Gallas missing the target from close range after a dangerous Pires free-kick.

As France picked up the tempo, the ball fell dangerously to Djibril Cisse in the Irish penalty area in the 54th minute but Kenny Cunningham got in a superb block.

Henry immediately tested Given with another low drive as the home team produced their best spell of the match.

However, the Irish regrouped to test the French defence and Barthez made a spectacular save to deny a Duff drive.

The visitors then created their best two chances of the match with Robbie Keane firstly not getting enough on a glancing header and O'Shea then inches wide with a glorious opportunity from point-blank range after a Reid free-kick.

O'Shea's head-in-hands reaction indicated that he knew he had missed the chance of the match.

Given denied Henry in the 79th minute with a finger-tip save after the Arsenal striker's brilliant first touch had created the chance.

Late on, Barthez appeared fortunate to stay on the pitch when he clearly aimed an elbow at Irish defender Andy O'Brien.


France: Barthez, Gallas, Squillaci, Givet, Silvestre, Wiltord, Mavuba, Dacourt (Diarra 64), Pires, Cisse (Govou 82), Henry.
Subs Not Used: Boumsong, Evra, Zebina, Luyindula, Coupet.

Booked: Mavuba.

Rep of Ireland: Given, Carr, O'Brien, Cunningham, O'Shea, Finnan, Roy Keane, Kilbane, Duff, Robbie Keane, Morrison (Reid 40).
Subs Not Used: Breen, Holland, Kavanagh, Miller, Kenny, Doherty.

Att: 75,000.

Ref: Arturo Dauden Ibanez (Spain).




WATCH AND LISTEN
Report: BBC Five Live's Conor McNamara


Interview: Ireland boss Brian Kerr



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