Belfast Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

AF­TER hold­ing Den­mark to a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Copen­hagen on Satur­day night, Ir­ish fans ar­rived at the Aviva sta­dium in con­fi­dent mood.

And they were cel­e­brat­ing when Shane Duffy headed the Repub­lic into a fifth minute lead.

James McClean went close to mak­ing it 2-0, but it proved a false dawn as Den­mark — and Eriksen — seized con­trol.

Once Cyrus Christie’s own-goal just be­fore the half-hour had lev­elled the match, Eriksen stamped his class all over it.

He put the Danes in front three min­utes later, round­ing off a won­der­fully-worked team move.

Eriksen’s stylish sec­ond — Den­mark’s third — in the 64th minute all but killed off the tie.

And the Tot­ten­ham mid­fielder com­pleted his hat-trick, crash­ing home the Danes’ fourth of the night with 17 min­utes re­main­ing.

A stop­page time Nicklas Bendt­ner penalty com­pleted a cat­a­strophic night for the Repub­lic.

Ul­ster­man O’Neill said: “We got off to a great start and per­haps James — the sec­ond goal — might have made a big, big dif­fer­ence.

“But we con­ceded those two re­ally sloppy goals — the sec­ond one is just a com­edy of er­rors.

“The whole mind­set then changes and you’re 2-1 down within a pe­riod of a cou­ple of min­utes when six or seven min­utes ear­lier you might have been 2-0 up.”

O’Neill ad­mit­ted they had blown a great op­por­tu­nity.

He added: “I’m nat­u­rally dis­ap­pointed be­cause, a cou­ple of nights ago in Copen­hagen, we fought very strongly.

“Tonight was our op­por­tu­nity. We thought we could win the game and the start that we got was great, but we def­i­nitely needed the sec­ond goal.”

Asked if it was a hu­mil­i­a­tion,

All over now: Martin O’Neill feels the pain last night

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