Diarra hits out at Ireland

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The Independent Online

France midfielder Lassana Diarra has accused the Republic of Ireland's players of "making up stories" following the altercation at the end of the World Cup play-off first leg in Dublin on Saturday night.

France claimed a 1-0 advantage going into tomorrow night's second leg in Paris after Nicolas Anelka's fortunate deflected second-half goal settled a tightly-contested encounter.

After the final whistle was blown tensions boiled over with Diarra and a number of Irish players involved in a brief exchange.

Following the match Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews claimed Diarra had insulted the Irish nation in a foul-mouthed rant at his team-mates - an accusation the Real Madrid midfielder denies.

"I don't know what happened. The Irish team had just lost 1-0, they were not happy, so of course it was 'our fault'," Diarra told L'Equipe.

"The events that took place at the end of the game often happen when players are annoyed.

"There were players who tried to see to it that I would get a card from the referee. I did not lose my head. It just lasted for 30 seconds, and afterwards I went calmly back to the dressing room.

"I don't know about any altercation. A player came towards me and I looked at him - that is all that happened.

"Anyway, if there were any words exchanged I'm not aware of them."

He added: "The Irish players do a lot of talking in the newspapers.

"They are looking to make up stories, claiming we've said this and that. But I don't see why I would have been talking about the Irish nation.

"I don't think I'll be singled out for special treatment in the second leg. The Irish team will focus on the French side in general.

"Whatever happens to me happens, but there's no need to worry on my account."

France defender Patrice Evra admitted the events after the match on Saturday night would ensure that tomorrow night's encounter, which already had plenty riding on the result, would take on extra spice.

"The second leg will be heated no matter what has happened," he said.

"The Irish lost the first game. There is a place at the World Cup finals at stake and we have aroused their sense of pride."

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