Den­mark qual­i­fies for World Cup

Winnipeg Sun - - SPORTS - SOC­CER ROUNDUP — Sun wire ser­vices

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.

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.

VEN­TURA’S STA­TUS UP IN AIR

The sta­tus of Italy coach Gian Piero Ven­tura re­mained in ques­tion af­ter the four-time cham­pi­ons failed to qual­ify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades.

Ven­tura said af­ter Mon­day’s 1-0 ag­gre­gate loss to Swe­den that he hadn’t re­signed be­cause he hadn’t dis­cussed it with fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Carlo Tavec­chio.

On Tues­day, Tavec­chio said he was call­ing a meet­ing for Wed­nes­day to put to­gether “an in­depth anal­y­sis and de­cide on choices for the fu­ture.”

Ven­tura’s con­tract was re­cently ex­tended to 2020 but the deal in­cludes a stip­u­la­tion that it could be voided in case of a failed qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

Italy was elim­i­nated af­ter a score­less draw against Swe­den on Mon­day.

Pre­vi­ous Italy coach An­to­nio Conte, Carlo An­celotti, Roberto Mancini and Mas­si­m­il­iano Allegri were be­ing men­tioned as pos­si­ble re­place­ments.

Tavec­chio’s sta­tus was also put into ques­tion by Ital­ian Olympic Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Gio­vanni Malago, who over­sees all sports in the coun­try.

“I spoke with Tavec­chio and I asked him what his in­ten­tions were and he told me that to­mor­row there will be this meet­ing in the fed­er­a­tion,” Malago said. “As you know, it’s up to the boss to take re­spon­si­bil­ity but if I were him I would re­sign.”

ENG­LAND, BRAZIL DRAW

An in­ex­pe­ri­enced Eng­land side sti­fled an­other of soc­cer’s lead­ing teams on, draw­ing 0-0 with Brazil af­ter a score­less draw with world cham­pion Ger­many last week.

In a friendly of few chances in front of 84,595 fans at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium, the clos­est Eng­land and Brazil came to break­ing the dead­lock came in the fi­nal 15 min­utes.

A long-range strike from Fer­nand­inho shaved the goal post and Ney­mar fed Paulinho, who was de­nied at the near post by Eng­land goal­keeper Joe Hart.

“We were play­ing the best team in the world at the mo­ment. I thought they were brilliant,” Hart said. “They made it re­ally hard for us and we had to adapt on the pitch ... the de­fen­sive back­line were ab­so­lutely phe­nom­e­nal tonight.”

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Den­mark’s Chris­tian Eriksen (left) cel­e­brates with Thomas De­laney af­ter scor­ing a goal against Ire­land dur­ing the FIFA World Cup 2018 qual­i­fy­ing foot­ball in Dublin yes­ter­day.

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