FIFA World Cup Playoff Report: Republic of Ireland 1 - 5 Denmark (Denmark win 5-1 on aggregate )
Gerard Grimes reports from the Aviva Stadium
Republic of Ireland’s World Cup dreams ended at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night as they were outclassed by Denmark, falling to a 5-1 defeat.
Denmark had the first chance of the game as they were awarded a free kick on the right two minutes in after Eriksen was adjudged to have been fouled.
Eriksen delivered the ball, which Meyler got his head to, flicking it into the hands of goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
The Aviva was sent into raptures on six minutes as Robbie Brady’s floated free kick from inside his own half wasn’t cleared, and Shane Duffy rose highest to head past Kasper Schmeichel and give Ireland the lead.
Jens Stryger Larsen looked to be connecting with the end of a superb cross field ball on ten minutes but failed to make the most of the chance, when Cyrus Christie had seemingly lost track of his man, giving him space and time at the back post.
William Kvist thought he had equalised for Denmark sixteen minutes in as Eriksen’s laid the ball off to him but Kvist’s deflected strike was superbly palmed away by Randolph.
Randolph was again called into action just a minute later as Denmark found space on the right with Pione Sisto finding himself in acres of space in the box but again Randolph was there to deny him.
Ireland went close to doubling their lead on 21 minutes as Cyrus Christie beat his man and played a stunning ball towards Daryl Murphy, who connected but saw his effort rise just over the top corner.
The home side looked to exploit Denmark out wide, next on the left as Brady played through James McClean, who continued his run into the box, but his shot flashed straight across Schmeichel’s goal.
Denmark found their equaliser and the lead in the tie – on away goals - on 29 minutes as they took a short corner and Sisto beat Arter before playing a ball across the face of goal.
A number of Danish players attacked the ball but it was Christensen who got the touch and the ball rolled in despite Cyrus Christie being on the back post.
It got worse for Ireland less than two minutes later, and they were the cause of their own downfall. Brady played a short pass to Ward who lost possession.
Denmark countered with Poulsen playing the ball to Jorgensen who found Eriksen on his left and his strike flew past Randolph with the assistance of the crossbar.
With Ireland needing to win the game to progress, O’Neill made two changes at the break, bringing Hoolahan and McGeady on in place of the midfield duo of Meyler and Arter – Ciaran Clark took the captain’s armband off Meyler.
But Denmark started the second half the brighter and had the first effort as Sisto marched forward easily and was allowed time to shoot but Randolph was equal.
Ireland’s first chance of the half came through a corner after 54 minutes which was, unsurprisingly, headed goalwards by Shane Duffy. However, this one was straight at Kasper Schmeichel, allowing the goalkeeper an easy save.
Denmark continued to look dangerous and were always ready to hit Ireland on the counter as Eriksen did on 56 minutes, again forcing a save from Randolph who collected the follow up which Thomas Delaney couldn’t turn home, under pressure from an Irish defender.
The visitors sealed their place at the World Cup in the 62nd minute as a neat passing move saw Sisto lay the ball off the Eriksen who picked his spot and shot past Randolph from 20 yards.
Ireland looked for a way back into the game as they forced a chance a free kick with Denmark could only half clear. Ireland picked up the second ball and eventually got it out left for Brady, who crossed, but McClean couldn’t keep his header down.
Denmark inflicted further damage on Ireland on 73 minutes as Ward didn’t clear Jorgensen’s low ball into the box, allowing the ball to run to the superb Eriksen who fired into the top corner for his hat-trick.
While the hope of qualifying was gone, Ireland were still looking for a goal, even if to just lessen the damage and substitute Shane Long went close on 77 minutes as he was played through by McClean but his attempted lob went over the bar.
Denmark added a fifth in the 90th minute as Nicklas Bendtner was awarded a somewhat soft penalty which he then got up to take himself, firing past Randolph to add further misery to Ireland’s night.
Republic of Ireland: Darren Randolph; Cyrus Christie, Ciaran Clark (Shane Long 71), Shane Duffy, Stephen Ward; David Meyler (C) (Wes Hoolahan 45), Harry Arter (Aiden McGeady 45); Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady, James McClean; Daryl Murphy.
Subs not used: Keiron Westwood (gk), Colin Doyle (gk), John O’Shea, Paul McShane, Glenn Whelan, Callum O’Dowda, Conor Hourihane, Scott Hogan, Kevin Long.
Denmark: Kasper Schmeichel; Andreas Christensen, Simon Kjaer (C), Andreas Bjelland, Jens Stryger Larsen (Peter Ankersen 53); Thomas Delaney, William Kvist; Yussuf Poulsen (Andreas Cornelius 69), Christian Eriksen, Pione Sisto; Nicolai Jorgensen (Nicklas Bendtner 83).
Subs not used: Frederik Ronnow (gk), Jonas Lossi (gk), Mike Jensen, Jannik Vestergaard, Mathias Jorgensen, Jonas Knudsen, Martin Braithwaite, Lukas Lerager, Lasse Schone.
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Christian Eriksen (Denmark).