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Henry eclipses Platini's goal mark

  • Story Highlights
  • Thierry Henry scores twice as France beat Lithuania 2-0 in Euro 2008 qualifying
  • Henry, with 43 goals, also beats Michel Platini's all-time French scoring record
  • Despite success, question marks still hang over Henry's career
  • Next Article in World Sport »
By Simon Hooper for CNN
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(CNN) -- The immediate significance of Thierry Henry's two late goals against Lithuania on Wednesday was to rescue a faltering France and keep them on course for Euro 2008.

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Thierry Henry: France's all-time leading goalscorer.

Henry finally broke the deadlock after relentless French pressure on 79 minutes, pouncing on a deflected cross from Hatem Ben Arfa to finish from close range.

One minute later French fans were breathing a sigh of relief as he found the net again, steering the ball home from Jeremy Toulalan's through pass.

Les Bleus' 2-0 win in Nantes moved them to the top of Group B, repairing the damage of last month's shock home defeat by Scotland and ensuring that a win -- or possibly even a point -- in Ukraine next month will book their passage to Austria and Switzerland.

But Henry's 42nd and 43rd international goals, following his 41st in a 6-0 win over the Faroe Islands on Saturday, also secured him a place in the history books as France's all-time leading international goalscorer, moving him two goals clear of the legendary Michel Platini.

"It really pleases me, especially as they are important goals," said Henry. "I really don't know what to say... I'm overcome. But the most important thing was the victory. It wasn't easy but we did it."

Since Zinedine Zidane's retirement last year, Henry has become the main man to whom a young and refashioned French side look for inspiration and leadership.

That is understandable since few players can match his achievements. He was a member of France's World Cup-winning squad on home soil in 1998, scoring three goals in the tournament, although he didn't feature in the final.

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Two years later he was a winner again at Euro 2000, and last year he was part of an underrated French team that surprised everyone by reaching the World Cup final. For a decade, with Arsenal and now Barcelona, he has been one of Europe's deadliest and most stylish strikers.

Yet question marks still hang over Henry's career. He has struggled to shake off a reputation as a player who goes missing in the biggest games and few in France would place him in the same pantheon as the talismanic Platini -- who Henry described as "among the best players in the history of the game" on Saturday -- or even Zidane.

Henry's switch to Barca, moving beyond the comfort zone he had slipped into at Arsenal, was perhaps a deliberate attempt to address that legacy at club level, offering him the opportunity to add Spanish and European medals to his English honors at arguably the world's biggest club.

Certainly French coach Raymond Domenech seemed to be hinting at more to come from Henry, even as he hailed him as a "great player" on Wednesday night.

"Henry has a big reputation," said Domenech. "He scores goals, he has another two or three years to keep scoring, he's (been) European champion, world champion, English champion, he will be champion of Spain, he's been a Champions League finalist, what more can I say?"

Domenech might have added that Henry, now 30, still needs to stamp his mark on a major tournament if he wants to be remembered as anything more than a great player -- and Euro 2008 could be his final chance. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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