Henry avoids controversy with 50th goal

PARIS - France captain Thierry Henry found the best way out of controversy by scoring his 50th international goal to present his side with a brave 1-1 draw in Serbia.

In the build-up to Wednesday's World Cup qualifier in Belgrade, Henry had been quoted by French daily Le Parisien as telling coach Raymond Domenech the team had no style, did not know which way to play and were getting bored during training sessions.

The Barcelona forward, who equalised on the half-hour in his 113th game for France, had appeared live on French television's most popular news programme to say he had been misquoted but the impression that the atmosphere in the team was not right lingered on.

"Tonight we showed that there was a magnificent atmosphere between us," Henry told reporters after France, down to 10 men early on, produced a battling performance to share the points with Serbia and hold on the second place in Group Seven.

"Anyway, this is not the first time we have a spanner thrown into our works," the 32-year-old added, referring to harsh criticism of Domenech and the team in the local media after a 1-1 home draw win Romania in a previous qualifier on Saturday.

"We'll fight for second place", said Henry, aware that the most likely scenario for France is now a playoff. "We want to qualify for the World Cup, no matter how. This team have a soul."