William Gallas claimed he did not know that Thierry Henry handled the ball in the build-up to his vital goal against the Republic of Ireland.
Giovanni Trapattoni's men took France to extra-time in the second leg of their World Cup play-off clash in Paris after Robbie Keane cancelled out Nicolas Anelka's opener from the first leg.
But a determined and committed display from Ireland counted for nothing when Gallas nodded home from close range in the first period of extra-time after Henry had twice handled the ball before crossing.
Goalkeeper Shay Given led the furious protests from the visitors, but the goal stood and the 1998 World Cup winners scraped through to the 2010 tournament in South Africa with a 2-1 aggregate success.
And Gallas claimed he had no idea if the fleet-footed former Arsenal favourite had breached the rules before clipping the ball back across goal.
"It all happened so quickly. I received the ball from Thierry. It happened so quickly that I couldn't see (if the ball hit his hand)," the Gunners defender said.
France coach Raymond Domenech admitted his side had been pushed to the brink by Ireland before booking their passage to next summer's showpiece tournament.
"It was hard, laborious and indeed miraculous," he told French TV.
"I was sure we would make it though. My forecast was 1-1!"