09.10.2004 at 20:00 Stade de France
0 - 0
Republic of Ireland
Referee: Arturo Dauden Ibanez (Spain)
World Cup Qualifier / Prog-match
France 0 Rep of Irealnd 0
It is hoped the Republic of Ireland do not live to regret the chance they had to add to the woes of a France team once on top of the world, but now struggling to raise their game above the ordinary.
Ireland are still without a win in Paris since a friendly victory in 1937, a statistic that should have been erased on a cool Parisian evening at the Stade de France.
Although this was a well-earned point en route to the World Cup finals in Germany in 2006, there will almost certainly be the feeling it should have been all three.
A transitional French team under new coach Raymond Domenech are still finding their feet, and in all fairness, they should have had the rug pulled from under them by manager Brian Kerr's boys.
In Thierry Henry, France have arguably the world's best player, but it is clear why he is unable to repeat his Arsenal goalscoring heroics with the national team as Domenech's team lack the pace, panache and punch of previous French sides.
The Gunners play with speed and fluidity of movement, combined with tactical awareness that affords Henry the number of chances he enjoys in the red and white of Arsenal.
Throw in the predominantly blue of France, though, and it is very much a different story for Henry as he barely sees the ball, never mind the goal and it was again the case during this game.
Take nothing away from Ireland, though, for defensively they were strong, disciplined and well marshalled, often parrying France's forward thrusts, while in attack they just lacked the defining touch that would have given them victory.
Backed by an apparent record travelling support of more than 30,000 Irish fans, this was one occasion the team did not want to disappoint those who had travelled in numbers to watch their heroes.
After rousing national anthems before kick off, in which the 'green army' even joined in with La Marseillaise, the Irish followers almost erupted inside 70 seconds as Ireland carved out the initial opportunity.
Roy Keane, who bossed the midfield against the untried French pairing of Olivier Dacourt and Antonio Mavuba in the absence of bitter adversary Patrick Vieira, slipped in a slide-rule pass for Clinton Morrison.
But the delivery had marginally too much weight on it as France captain Fabien Barthez, wearing the armband due to Vieira's absence through suspension following his dismissal in the Faroe Islands win last month, collected off the toes of the Birmingham striker.
The massed Irish ranks then broke into a brave chorus of 'Thierry Henry, you're having a laugh', which was perhaps unwise at such an early juncture in the game.
But his first significant contribution was to curl in a left-wing free-kick too close to expectant father Shay Given in the 10th minute, allowing the Newcastle goalkeeper to comfortably collect.
After a Kevin Kilbane drive had ricocheted off Sebastien Squillaci for a corner which came to nothing, Highbury team-mates Robert Pires and Henry soon combined, but again the weighted ball was too heavy as Given easily claimed.
A rare moment of consternation soon followed, though, when Stephen Carr's flick header back to Given was aimlessly directed, forcing the 28-year-old to hastily parry the ball away for a corner as Henry bore down.
Morrison then glanced a Steve Finnan right-wing cross wide from 12 yards, an action which proved to be his last of the game as he limped off seven minutes before the break with an injury to his left knee.
It was while he was lying prone in the French half awaiting treatment that the home side created their best opportunity of the game.
A one-two between Henry and Pires on the edge of the area resulted in a goal-bound drive a full-stretch Given tipped away, preserving parity going into the interval of a game that was there for the taking for both sides.
Barthez proceeded to show the good and the bad of his game in the second half, spilling a long-range drive from Andy Reid who had replaced Morrison, and only just claiming the ball ahead of potential poacher Robbie Keane.
But he then underlined his agility in the 62nd minute, tipping away a controlled half-volley from Damien Duff after the Chelsea winger had latched onto a punched clearance from the Marseille goalkeeper to an inswinging Reid corner.
In between there was a Kenny Cunningham block to a half volley from Djibril Cisse and Henry attempting a long-range drive that Given coolly snapped up.
Instead it was Ireland who were sensing the win, only to spurn two clear opportunities midway through the half, initially with Robbie Keane failing to gain enough purchase on a header from inside the six-yard box to a Stephen Carr cross, allowing Barthez to pounce on his line.
But then came a moment John O'Shea will want to forget as he somehow sidefooted wide a deep left-wing cross to the far post from Reid when he was left all alone and it appeared easier to hit the target.
There followed Henry's one clear chance as a lofted ball from Pires finally breached the Ireland defence, and although the angle was awkward, his shot was hardly true as Given nudged the ball wide.
Controversy soon followed when Barthez elbowed Andy O'Brien in the penalty area, the Newcastle defender responding with a flick of his hand which sparked a melee, but no cautions from referee Ibanez.
Honours even then, with Group Four remaining delicately poised after three games as Ireland, France, Switzerland and Israel all have five points.
France Barthez, Gallas, Squillaci, Givet, Silvestre, Wiltord, Mavuba, Dacourt (Diarra 64), Pires, Cisse (Govou 82), Henry.
Subs Not Used: Boumsong, Evra, Zebina, Luyindula, Coupet.
Rep of IrelandGiven, 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.