O’NEILL DEFIANCE AS IRELAND DREAM DIES
DAZZLING DENMARK PUT REPUBLIC TO THE SWORD TO CLINCH WORLD CUP QUALIFICATION
Martin O’Neill dismissed the suggestion that his luck had run out after the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup dreams were ended by Denmark.
Republic boss O’Neill (pictured, inset) was also defiant when asked if last night’s 5-1 play-off defeat would have any effect on his verbal agreement with FA of Ireland chief executive John Delaney over a contract extension.
The Republic were repeatedly picked off as they threw caution to the wind, something they have rarely done during O’Neill’s fouryear reign.
Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen fired a hat-trick as the home crowd in Dublin saw their hopes of a trip to Russia 2018 end in tatters.
O’Neill said of his contract situation: “I haven’t spoken to John since we talked about it, so I’ll speak to John, I’m sure. There was an agreement, but I’ll speak to John in the next couple of weeks.”
And he was irked by the notion his luck may have turned on an evening when a positive start unravelled alarmingly.
The former Sunderland boss said: “That’s simply not true. I didn’t win those trophies that I have won both as a player and as a manager and have some luck.
“Everybody is entitled to a little bit of luck, so I totally disagree with you.
“We were well beaten tonight by a side that was technically better than us and have a word-class player playing in their team, but I don’t agree with you about luck running out.
“The disappointment is obviously very, very strong tonight because we haven’t been able to do it, but I have to commend the players on getting this far.”
After taking an early lead which sent spirits soaring inside a packed Aviva Stadium, Ireland were put down brutally by Denmark, for whom Eriksen was lethal after an untypical ineffectual display in the first leg.
Cyrus Christie’s unfortunate own goal had cancelled out Shane Duffy’s opener, but Eriksen then took over and produced expert finishes either side of half-time and completed his hat-trick with a gleeful 74th-minute strike before substitute Nicklas Bendtner rounded things off with a late penalty.
Sunderland veteran John O’Shea was an unused sub, but club-mate Aiden McGeady was thrown on for the second half to no avail.
O’Shea, 36, may now decide to end his international career after 116 caps.
Denmark boss Age Hareide saluted Eriksen, who plundered at will as the Danes dominated.
Asked if Eriksen could be considered as one of the top 10 players in the world, Hareide said: “Yes, absolutely in the top 10.
“It’s difficult to rank, but we saw (in Tottenham’s Champions League victory) against Real Madrid he is probably one of the best players in his position in Europe at the moment. “Ronaldo, Messi and some strikers are playing as forwards. Christian is more a wide man or a central midfield player. He has this capability of scoring goals, making assists, finding space, so definitely top 10.”
Ex-Sunderland loanee Nicklas Bendtner (left) celebrates hitting Denmark’s fifth goal, while Daryl Murphy (right) despairs at the final whistle.