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.
What they said
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill: “We were well beaten tonight by a side that was technically better than us and have a world-class player playing in their team. 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.”
Denmark boss Age Hareide: “The whole team did well, played well and scored a lot of goals and we are in Russia. That was the goal and aim before I started as the coach for Denmark and I am very pleased.”
Tweet of the match
Star man – Christian Eriksen
The night and the match ball belonged to Tottenham’s hat-trick hero Eriksen, who put the Danes ahead with his 32nd-minute thunderbolt and continued to inspire his country’s comeback after the break with his second after finding space and firing past goalkeeper Darren Randolph 63 minutes in. Eriksen completed his hat-trick with another powerful effort with just over 15 minutes remaining.
Moment of the match
Denmark struck back with two quick-fire goals in four first-half minutes. The first an own goal turned over the line by Ireland defender Cyrus Christie after an Andreas Christensen effort hit the post. And their second when Eriksen’s fired home first time off the underside of the bar from the edge of the 18-yard box to put the visitors ahead at the break.
View from the bench
Republic manager Martin O’Neill saw his side lose a narrow early advantage after a lengthy spell of dominance from the Danes in which they turned the game on its head. O’Neill made two changes at the break as he brought on Wes Hoolahan and Aiden McGeady for David Meyler and Harry Arter, while Shane Long replaced Ciaran Clark with 20 minutes remaining as Ireland had their final throw of the dice in an attempt to turnover a then 3-1 deficit.
Republic of Ireland: Darren Randolph 5/10, Cyrus Christie 5, Shane Duffy 5, Ciaran Clark 5, Stephen Ward 3, David Meyler (capt) 5, Harry Arter 4, Robbie Brady 5, Jeff Hendrick 4, James McClean 6, Daryl Murphy 5.
Substitutes: Wes Hoolahan (for Meyler, 46 mins) 6, Aiden McGeady (for Arter, 46 mins) 5, Shane Long (for Clark, 71 mins) 5.