World Cup: Denmark thrashes Republic of Ireland 5-1 in Dublin to claim a place at next year’s finals
Denmark has thrashed the Republic of Ireland 5-1 in Dublin to clinch a spot in next year’s World Cup finals after their play-off second leg.
The first leg in Copenhagen was a defensive struggle resulting in a goal-less draw, and many predicted a similar contest in Dublin.
But within six minutes, the Irish were ahead.
The home side earned a free-kick, and sent the ball forward into the Danish box. A defender flailed at it to clear, but sent it towards goal, and Shane Duffy outleaped Kasper Schmeichel to nod the ball home.
Needing to score to keep their hopes alive, the Danes put fierce pressure on Ireland’s right, targeting Cyrus Christie.
The Irish right-back was burned a couple of times by Denmark attacks, but the Irish managed to keep the ball out.
Darren Randolph in the Irish goal was forced to make a couple of fine saves from William Kvist and Pione Sisto, but the tempo was increasing.
Ireland could have had a second, when they broke on the counter, and Christie’s cross was sent into the side netting by Daryl Murphy.
As the game remained very open, Ireland broke down the left wing, and Robbie Brady slid a pass to put James McLean through, but his shot ran just wide of the far post from a narrow angle.
But the game, and the overall tie then changed in the space of three minutes.
First, Denmark scored a scrambled goal from a corner, with the ball bobbling in front of goal and Andreas Christensen bundled it off the post, onto Christie and in for the vital away goal to put the visitors ahead.
In the 32nd minute, the Irish gave the ball away on halfway, and the Danes pushed forward — Yussuf Poulsen fed Christian Eriksen, and the Spurs star smashed the ball off the bar into the net.
It was 2-1 at the break, with Ireland needing to score twice to advance.
Ireland had no choice but to attack, leaving the home side open on the counter.
Denmark nearly made it three on a couple of occasions early in the second half — Ireland never stopped trying, but they couldn’t get an equaliser on the night to put more pressure on the visitors.
Finally, in the 63rd minute, Eriksen got the ball on the edge of the box, and he planted the ball past Randolph for the killer third goal.
He completed his hat-trick 11 minutes later, and Nicolas Bendtner slotted a penalty near full-time to complete the scoring, and prompting Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau — who plays Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones — to tweet his joy.
Nikolaj CosterWaldau tweet: Praise the lord
The win caps off an excellent 24 hours for Scandinavian football, following Sweden’s 0-0 draw in Milan that gave the team a 1-0 aggregate victory over Italy to clinch a place in Russia at the expense of the Azzurri.
There are only two places left available at the finals — the Socceroos play Honduras tonight in Sydney before New Zealand and Peru face off in Lima on Thursday afternoon (AEDT).