Eriksen kills off dream
Eriksen serves up Danish pasting
CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN shot down Ireland’s World Cup hopes with a stunning hat-trick in Dublin last night.
Martin O’Neill had warned his men to shackle the Tottenham star in the second leg of this World Cup play-off.
But Eriksen first escaped his markers in the 32nd minute to smash Denmark 2-1 ahead.
And he left Ireland trailing further behind with two more goals in the second half to destroy Ireland’s hopes of reaching next summer’s finals in Russia.
The Republic’s hopes reached fever pitch at the Aviva Stadium after six minutes when Shane Duffy rose unchallenged to head home over Danish keeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Daryl Murphy and James McClean then missed glorious chances and Ireland were punished when Andreas Christensen’s scuffed shot hit the post and rebounded in off Irish defender Cyrus Christie’s thigh after 29 minutes.
Eriksen took over before former Premier League striker Nicklas Bendtner finished off the rout from the penalty spot.
THE REPUBLIC of Ireland were given a glimpse of the promised land but their World Cup dream was torn to pieces by Tottenham star Christian Eriksen.
Hopeful Irish fans were dusting off their passports when Shane Duffy gave Martin O’Neill’s men the perfect start on six minutes.
But Denmark scored twice in three first-half minutes with Eriksen adding to Cyrus Christie’s own goal, leaving the finals in Russia looking a distant dream.
And when the Spurs maestro struck in the 63rd and 74th minutes, the Republic’s dream had turned into a nightmare.
A late penalty from Nicklas Bendtner added further salt to the wounds. It had all started so well as well. When Nicolai Jorgensen inadvertently touched on a Robbie Brady free-kick, Kasper Schmeichel thought the ball was his to collect but he had not anticipated Duffy’s leap and the defender headed the ball over him and into the net.
It needed two excellent saves in a minute from Darren Randolph to keep the lead intact.
He kept out William Kvist’s effort, diving low down to his right in the 17th minute, and moments later he pushed a Pione Sisto shot behind for a corner.
It wasn’t one-way traffic, however. Just as their manager had promised, Ireland carried an attacking threat. Daryl Murphy fired inches over the bar when he met Christie’s cross at the near post and James McClean then swept agonisingly wide. The equaliser in the 29th minute had an element of good fortune about it while the Dane’s second, three minutes later, was down to rank bad defending.
Following a short corner, Sisto skinned Harry Arter, sending a low ball into a crowded goalmouth.
Andreas Christensen poked a shot against the upright and Christie couldn’t avoid nudging the ball over the line.
Stephen Ward will want to forget his contribution towards Denmark going ahead. He lost possession inside his own half and when Jorgensen worked the ball inside to the unmarked Eriksen, the Spurs man’s first-time shot flew in.
O’Neill went for broke at the break, sending on Wes Hoolahan and Aiden McGeady, but Ireland’s World Cup dream died in the next 30 minutes.
Eriksen bent home a stunning third before capitalising on another Ward howler to make it 4-1.
When substitute Bendtner was fouled in the box in stoppage time, he stepped up to end Ireland’s miserable night.
REP OF IRE (4-3-3): Randolph; Christie, Duffy, Clark, Ward; Hendrick, Meyler, Arter; McClean, Murphy, Brady. Subs: Westwood, Doyle, O’Shea, McShane, Whelan, McGeady, S Long, O’Dowda, Hoolahan, Hourihane, Hogan, K Long.
DENMARK (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Christensen, Bjelland, Kjaer, Stryger Larsen; Kvist, Delaney; Poulsen, Eriksen, Sisto; N Jorgensen. Subs: Ronnow, Lossi, Jensen, Vestergaard, Ankersen, Bendtner, M Jorgensen, Knudsen, Braithwaite, Lerager, Schone, Corneilus.
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland).
CUP HERO: Eriksen
ERIK THE DREAD: Christian Eriksen stuns the Republic with Denmark’s second goal