Denmark qualified for the World Cup as they battled back from an early goal down to beat Republic of Ireland 5-1 at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday.
Republic of Ireland 1 Denmark 5 (Agg: 1:5)
- Duffy gives hosts early lead
- Danes level through Christie OG
- Eriksen bangs in three goals
- Bendtner penalty seals comeback win
The qualifying play-off tie was delicately poised after the first leg ended goalless, and Martin O’Neill’s side got off to a flying start when Shane Duffy broke the deadlock in the sixth minute.
But the Danes took command as Christian Eriksen bagged a hat-trick after Cyrus Christie’s 29th-minute own-goal had levelled matters, with Niklas Bendtner completing the scoring from the spot at the death.
The hosts conceded a free-kick in the defensive third after just two minutes, and Eriksen’s delivery was misjudged by David Meyler, whose header was claimed on the line by Darren Randolph.
But Ireland opened the scoring four minutes later from their first attack as Robbie Brady’s deep free-kick was flicked on by Nicolai Jorgensen, which allowed Duffy to slot home from close range.
The Danes looked to respond and they tested Randolph twice shortly after the quarter-hour mark, with William Kvist’s low drive forcing a save out of the keeper, who palmed away Pione Sisto’s volley moments later.
Daryl Murphy could only find the side-netting with a flick from Cyrus Christie’s cross on 21 minutes, while James McClean flashed a shot across the face of goal three minutes later after being played in by Brady.
The visitors then started to take control of proceedings and they were back in the contest on 29 minutes when Sisto showed neat skills on the left to send in a cross that Andreas Christensen steered onto the post before Christie diverted it over the line.
10 – Christian Eriksen has scored more goals in European 2018 World Cup qualifiers (inc. play-offs) than any other midfielder (10). Force. pic.twitter.com/mvYziNoEpO
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 14, 2017
The Irish barely had time to gather themselves when they fell behind on 32 minutes as Yussuf Poulsen won back possession off Stephen Ward and sprung a counter, which resulted in Eriksen firing in off the crossbar from 18 yards out.
Denmark stayed on the front foot for the remainder of the first half, leaving Ireland needing two goals in the second half without reply to progress.
Randolph had to be alert to deny Sisto from 25 yards out after he was played into space by Eriksen’s clever flick on 53 minutes, while Kasper Schmeichel was called into action for the first time two minutes later as he held onto Duffy’s header from a corner.
Eriksen threatened again on 57 minutes after being sent clean through on goal, but Randoph pulled off a sharp reaction save, although there would be no denying the Tottenham playmaker four minutes later as he was allowed space to curl the ball home from 20 yards out.
Eriksen completed his three-goal haul on 74 minutes when Ward failed to deal with Andreas Cornelius’ cross which fell for the Spurs star, who blasted home from 12 yards out.
Sisto was a whisker away from getting on the scoresheet with a rasping strike was 20 yards out that flew just wide of the goal on 77 minutes, before Shane Long raced onto a long ball and chipped over the bar at the other end moments later.
The Danes capped off a superb comeback in the final minute when Bendtner was brought down by McClean inside the area for a penalty, which the striker converted himself to wrap up the win.