France have again qualified for the FIFA World Cup finals but this time they did it the hard way.
Les Bleus managed an extra-time goal at the Stade de France in Paris to win their play-off with Republic of Ireland 2-1 on aggregate.
The first leg in Dublin on Saturday went the way of the French thanks to a Nicolas Anelka goal but Ireland showed their true fighting spirit when captain Robbie Keane slotted home in the 33rd minute of the second leg to tie the overall score at 1-1.
A tireless encounter ensued with both sides playing cautiously until the end of regular time where the contest remained all tied up.
Keane made a late play for the winner with a 25-yard blast moments before the 90 minutes were up but it was to no avail.
Just prior to the first half of extra-time, Arsenal defender William Gallas netted a controversial goal that appeared to be handled in the area by his former Gunners teammate Thierry Henry before he passed it back to the centre-half who finished in the 103rd minute.
The goal made it 1-1 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate and despite Ireland’s best intentions, they could not break through the French defence meaning Raymond Domenech’s charges progress through to South Africa 2010.