Eriksen’s hat-trick de­stroys Ire­land’s World Cup plans

Yorkshire Post - - FOOTBALL -

CHRIS­TIAN ERIKSEN plun­dered a stun­ning hat-trick as Den­mark shot the Repub­lic of Ire­land’s World Cup dreams down in flames to book their ticket to Rus­sia in em­phatic style.

The Tot­ten­ham mid­fielder, who had been ef­fec­tively shack­led in Copen­hagen on Satur­day evening, took the sec­ond leg of the play-off tie by the scruff of the neck with two su­perb fin­ishes ei­ther side of half-time be­fore lash­ing home a third late on.

In the process he took his tally for the cam­paign to 11 goals, just two fewer than the Repub­lic man­aged in their 12 games in the com­pe­ti­tion, be­fore sub­sti­tute Nicklas Bendt­ner con­verted a last-minute penalty.

Den­mark man­ager Age Hareide had fore­cast that his Repub­lic coun­ter­part and old friend Martin O’Neill could not be as neg­a­tive as he had been at the Parken Sta­dium, and was con­fi­dent his play­ers could ex­ploit that.

His as­ser­tion proved as­tute as, de­spite tak­ing an early lead through Shane Duffy’s header, Ire­land were sim­ply un­able to find the right bal­ance be­tween at­tack and de­fence af­ter Cyrus Christie’s own goal had re­stored par­ity.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion that had char­ac­terised the Repub­lic’s pro­gres­sion to the play-offs dis­in­te­grated hor­ri­bly and in the end, they were picked off in ruth­less fash­ion.

O’Neill: “We’re re­ally dis­ap­pointed. We were well beaten in the end. The two goals we con­ceded within a cou­ple of min­utes knocked us. They were re­ally poor goals to con­cede. We had to chase the game and Den­mark took ad­van­tage. They de­served to go through.

“We had two great chances to make it 2-0. We needed ei­ther of those to go in to get a real foothold in the game. That didn’t hap­pen and Den­mark were clin­i­cal.” ITALY’S man­ager Gi­ampiero Ven­tura is set to learn his fate today af­ter the Az­zurri failed to reach the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

Ital­ian Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion (FIGC) pres­i­dent Carlo Tavec­chio has called a meet­ing to dis­cuss the coun­try’s fail­ure to qual­ify for next year’s tour­na­ment in Rus­sia.

Gian­luigi Buf­fon was one of sev­eral star names to call time on their in­ter­na­tional ca­reers, bring­ing the cur­tain down on his 175-cap stint af­ter Mon­day’s goal­less draw with Swe­den in Mi­lan, which saw them lose their qual­i­fy­ing play-off 1-0 and meant that the four-time world cham­pi­ons would be ab­sent from next year’s fi­nals.

It is the first time since 1958 that an Ital­ian team has not qual­i­fied for a World Cup and the fall­out has re­ver­ber­ated around the game, with Ital­ian news­pa­per

hail­ing the ar­rival of the ‘“apoc­a­lypse”.

Tavec­chio said: “We are deeply bit­ter and dis­ap­pointed for the fail­ure to qual­ify for the World Cup, it is a sports fail­ure that needs a shared so­lu­tion and for this rea­son I called a meet­ing (for today with all the

Scored three as Den­mark came from be­hind to win 5-1 in Ire­land.

Was late for post-match con­fer­ence as he said good­bye to Italy’s play­ers.

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