O’NEILL DE­FI­ANCE AS IRE­LAND DREAM DIES

DAZ­ZLING DEN­MARK PUT REPUB­LIC TO THE SWORD TO CLINCH WORLD CUP QUAL­I­FI­CA­TION

Sunderland Echo - - Football -

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.

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