Dylan O’Connell reports from Parken Stadium
The Republic of Ireland struck late to salvage a point away to Denmark, as Shane Duffy’s 85th minute header secured a 1-1 draw in Copenhagen to maintain Mick McCarthy’s unbeaten record.
The late, late finish by Duffy canceled out Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s opener on a night that would finish with the Boys in Green sitting top of Group D in their quest for UEFA Euro 2020 qualification.
For two sides so well-acquainted in international football, it was a cagey opening and game between the teams and, from the whistle, it was a game battled through the centre.
Ireland featured a narrow three in midfield with Glenn Whelan anchoring the play alongside the pace of Conor Hourihane and Jeff Hendrick.
The trio were faced with the pace of Thomas Delaney, Yussef Poulsen and Lasse Schone and the investion Christen Eriksen. This battle decided the play.
Early chances saw Christian Eriksen powering through the centre, using the extra man to show his attacking flair, but Richard Keogh used his physicality to clear. This was the story for much of the first half.
As the Danish ran sharp through the centre, Ireland where dogged as they clamored to cover their lines. They pushed the Irish back and an Eriksen free kick forced an excellent save from Darren Randolph.
Ireland had to be patient before they could work their first attack of the game. David McGoldrick tested the Danish defense, forcing an excellent block from Andreas Christensen.
In a moment of hesitation from the Danish defenders, Hourihane pounced to shoot but the Corkman’s shot went narrowly wide.
Seconds later, Shane Duffy could have made it 1-0 as he met a swinging ball in by Hourihanebut he was denied by Kasper Schmeichel.
The ball bobbed off the line and came out through a scattered box before being hoofed clear by Simon Kjaer.
This was not remotely upsetting to the Danes. Closing out the half, the Danish were the better side and saw a number of chances denied by the slimmest of margins.
Again Duffy thwarted the Danes, as he knocked clear a free kick from Eriksen. From the corner, Thomas Delaney’s header dodged everybody in the scattered penalty area;
Duffy guided the Irish to half-time as last ditch blocks from Martin Braithwaite and Christian Eriksen, kept the Republic level amid a dominant first half from the hosts.
The half time break did not slow the Danes. Nichols Jorgenson was denied by Duffy before Yussef Poulsen was denied by a clawing save from Darren Randolph.
This was the story for much of the second half. Duffy was commanding in the Irish defense, again, aided by Keogh who forced a stinging strike by Poulsen out for a corner.
The Irish resistance broke on the 74th minute. Substitute Hojbjerg nestled free in front of goal, and with his first touch of the game, turned in a near perfect cross from Jens Stryger-Larsen.
However, with five minutes remaining, Duffy rose the highest to head an Alan Judge free kick past Schmeichel to make it 1-1.
In the dying moments, Ireland nearly got a second as Callum Robinson broke nad played James McClean through to shoot, but Schmeichel clawed to safety at the far post.
Denmark: Kasper Schmeichel, Jens Stryger Larsen, Simon Kjaer , Andreas Christensen, Henrick Dalsgaard, Thomas Delaney, Lasse Schone (Pierre Emile Hojbjerg 72’), Yussef Poulsen, Christain Eriksen, Nicolai Jorgenson, Martin Braithwaite (Kasper Dolberg 64’).
Subs not used: Jesper Hansen (gk), Fredrick Ronnow (gk), Peter Ankersen, Victor Nelson, Riza Durmisi, Robert Skov, Mathias Jorgenson, Daniel Wass, Andreas Christensen, Jacob Bruun Larsen.
Republic of Ireland: Darren Randolph, Seamus Coleman Shane Duffy, Richard Keogh, Enda Stevens, Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane (Scott Hogan 81’), Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady (Alan Judge 67’), James McClean, David McGoldrick (Callum Robinson 87’).
Subs not used: Sean McDermott (gk), James Talbot (gk), Matthew Doherty, Sean Maguire, John Egan, Callum O’Dowda, Josh Cullen, Ronan Curtis, Greg Cummingham.
Booking: Conor Hourihane (29).
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir.
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Shane Duffy (Republic of Ireland).