Henry leads France to 1-0 win over Slovakia

Thierry Henry scored the lone goal with a quick free kick in the 39th to give France a 1-0 victory over Slovakia on Wednesday.

updated: August 24, 2007 14:35 IST
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Trnava, Slovakia:

Thierry Henry scored the lone goal with a quick free kick in the 39th to give France a 1-0 victory over Slovakia on Wednesday.

The FC Barcelona forward scored his 40th goal for France, one away from Michel Platini's national record.

After Nicolas Anelka was fouled just outside the Slovakia area, Henry chose to quickly execute the set piece instead of waiting for the formation of a wall, beating goalkeeper Stefan Senecky with a low shot inside the far post.

"It's always nice to come back with a victory," Henry said. "The referee (Igor Eogorov) asked me if I wanted a wall placed nine meters away. I said no."

France created plenty of other chances. Anelka outpaced the Czech defense on the left flank in the 24th to connect with Henry, whose shot went wide.

Henry had enough time to control the ball in the area in the 33rd, but could not put much power on his volley that flew straight into Senecky's arms.

The Barcelona forward wasted another opportunity in the 35th after a pass from Patrick Vieira split the Slovakian defense.

Henry dribbled past Senecky, heading toward the line, but his shot went wide.

Slovakia fought back in the second half. A powerful strike from Marek Sapara in the 47th, bouncing just in front of the goalline, forced Mickael Landreau to dive for a save.

Five minutes later, the France goalkeeper had to punch away a floating drive from substitute Filip Holosko.

France then reasserted its domination. Chelsea winger Florent Malouda broke the offside trap in the 61st, but a poor touch led him to push the ball straight into Senecky's arms.

Franck Ribery ran past Marian Had on the right flank in the 65th, but neither Henry nor Anelka could deflect in the Bayern Munich midfielder's cross.

Philippe Mexes could have put the game out of reach in the 76th, but his header off a corner kick from Malouda hit the crossbar.

On another corner kick in the 86th, Bakary Sagna, unmarked at the far post, could not catch the frame.

In injury time, Samir Nasri, fed by Anelka, sent his shot wide of the far post.

France played without defenders William Gallas, Lilian Thuram and Willy Sagnol, who are injured.

"Our squad was solid, well organized, and able to develop plays and resist the pressure at the end," France coach Raymond Domenech said. "But Slovakia is not Italy. We will have to retain those fundamentals to win (in Italy)."

France, which leads Group B in Euro 2008 qualifying with 18 points, will visit Italy on Sept. 8 before hosting Scotland on September 12.

Slovakia, fourth in Group D with nine points, will take on Ireland on September 8 and Wales on September 12.