Denmark qualifies for World Cup with 5-1 rout of Ireland

DUBLIN — Christian Eriksen scored a superb hat trick as Denmark qualified for next year’s World Cup with an emphatic 5-1 victory over Ireland in their playoff on Tuesday.

With last week’s first leg having finished 0-0, Ireland made an ideal start to the return match by taking the lead in the sixth minute through defender Shane Duffy.

But Denmark’s players gradually took control in midfield and were rewarded when Andreas Christensen’s effort went into the net off Ireland’s Cyrus Christie in the 29th minute.

Eriksen then stole the show, putting the visitors ahead in the 32nd minute, and scoring two more after the break.

Nicklas Bendtner turned a deserved victory into a rout when he converted a penalty in the 90th minute.

Next year’s tournament in Russia will be Denmark’s fifth World Cup appearance and first since 2010.

Denmark coach Age Hareide paid tribute to Eriksen, who has been on fine form this season for Tottenham in the Premier League and the Champions League.

Asked Eriksen’s world ranking as a player, Hareide said: “Absolutely in the top 10. It is difficult to rank, but we saw him against Real Madrid. He is probably one of the best players in his position in Europe at the moment.

“All the teams that succeed and go to a World Cup have star players, and players that can make the difference and Christian showed that today.”

Yet a raucous home crowd in Dublin had been treated to the perfect start when Robbie Brady’s free kick from just beyond the halfway line was flicked on by Denmark’s Nicolai Jorgensen. The ball rose into the path of centre back Duffy, who headed home.

Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney had said after the first leg that breaching the Ireland defence was like “opening a can of baked beans with your bare hands – it takes time”.

This time, their perseverance eventually paid off in the 29th minute.

Pione Sisto went past Harry Arter after a short corner and pulled the ball back for Christensen, whose touch just managed to send the ball over the line despite Christie’s efforts to try and divert it away.

Three minutes later, Yussef Poulsen showed good tenacity to steal possession off Stephen Ward, before exchanging passes with Jorgensen. The ball was worked to the left, where Eriksen struck a first-time shot into the net via the crossbar – giving Ireland keeper Darren Randolph no chance.

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill made two changes at the break as his team tried to chase the game. It made for an open contest, but it played into Denmark’s hands.

The contest was over in the 63rd minute when Sisto picked out Eriksen. The Tottenham forward was given too much time on the edge of the area and fired the ball home – with Ciaran Clark and Duffy unable to reach him.

It was a match to forget for Ward, who failed to control a cross and allowed Eriksen to race onto the loose ball and rifle it into the top corner in the 74th minute.

The hat trick brought Eriksen’s total in this World Cup qualifying campaign to 11.

A bad night for Ireland was compounded when James McClean gave away a penalty for a foul on Bendtner, with the former Arsenal striker scoring from the spot.

“We were well beaten,” O’Neill said. “We fought tooth and nail to try and get into this position. This was a playoff to take us to the World Cup, I have to commend the players for getting this far.”

Meanwhile, Hareide can look forward to the tournament in Russia with optimism.

“We have played since October 2016 with no defeats and I think that the team gets stronger and stronger,” he said. “We are looking forward to the World Cup… I think it will be an interesting and fascinating time to go there and take this team”.

Just Posted

City of Red Deer gets ball rolling on annexing more land

”It’s important we look ahead,” says Mayor Veer

Walmart melding online and in-store shopping

South Red Deer Walmart recently underwent six months of renovations

Updated: Nature trail unveiled at RDC

Trail unveiling and tree planting honours Nova Chemicals $2 million donation

Video: Windows smashed at three Red Deer businesses

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vandalism spree

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

OTTAWA — More than one million jobs could be lost to the… Continue reading

McGill research finds significant driving impairment 5 hours after cannabis use

MONTREAL — Driving under the influence of cannabis remains dangerous even five… Continue reading

Family: Remembering the important things

It seems so much of life is work and routine and then… Continue reading

Canada gets into Women’s World Cup with 7-0 win over Panama

FRISCO, Texas — Christine Sinclair isn’t concerned about chasing records. She’s set… Continue reading

Baldwin urges ‘overthrow’ of Trump government via voting

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Actor Alec Baldwin followed up his latest parody portrayal… Continue reading

Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

CANBERRA, Australia — Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex,… Continue reading

Sears files for Chapter 11 amid plunging sales, massive debt

NEW YORK — Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, buckling… Continue reading

Doctors to debate medical pot as more patients expected to ask for prescriptions

VANCOUVER — Doctors with opposing views on whether medical marijuana should be… Continue reading

Most Read