A deflected goal in Ireland and a handball in France were enough to help the French reach the World Cup, but Raymond Domenech’s team looks far from convincing and the coach even admitted it was “miraculous” to squeeze through.

France will be in South Africa next year in its fourth consecutive World Cup, but many questions remain whether Domenech’s team has what it takes there after being outplayed by Ireland in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw.

“It was difficult, arduous and sometimes miraculous,” Domenech said. “It was a victory by the skin of our teeth.”

Make that the palm of Thierry Henry’s hand. France needed an extra-time goal from Arsenal defender William Gallas, but in the build up to the goal veteran striker Henry clearly handled the ball – twice - before toe-poking it up to Gallas to head in from one yard out.

Gallas’ goal made it 1-1 on the night and sent France through 2-1 on aggregate after Nicolas Anelka scored in the second half at Croke Park on Saturday with a shot that deflected past goalkeeper Shay Given to give France a 1-0 win.

The Irish players were furious - and with reason.

Henry, a close friend of San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, patted the ball down like a basketball player before remembering to use his feet. Henry and his former Arsenal teammate Gallas were also offside on the initial free kick.

“Allow me a little moment of happiness,” Domenech said, claiming he didn’t see that incident {mdash} even though he was outraged Anelka was not awarded a penalty earlier in extra time.

“For two years now, we’ve been fighting, struggling, hanging on, we’ve been criticised from all sides,” Domenech said.

Former France midfielder Emmanuel Petit was outspoken in his criticism, while former playmaker Zinedine Zidane and goalkeeper Fabien Barthez watched nervously at Stade de France.

“There is nothing glorious about this,” Petit told L’Equipe’s website. “Most of the players failed to perform.”

Petit, who scored the third goal when France beat Brazil 3-0 in the 1998 World Cup final, thought Ireland “dominated in every department.”

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