After missing out on it last time, Denmark will be in the World Cup after thrashing Ireland in Dublin, led by the sublime Christian Eriksen with a hat trick, and even Lord Nicklas Bendtner made himself useful with a 90th minute penalty.
After a combative 0-0 in the first leg at Copenhagen, the Irish stormed the pitch to take an early lead through Shane Duffy in the 6th minute. But pretty quickly, Ireland gave up on trying to gain possession in the middle of the pitch, allowing Denmark more and more space without any pressure up to 35 meters from goal.
As long as Ireland kept Eriksen in check, things looked like in the first match, but Åge Hareide made a quick switch in tactics after early frustrations, which left Martin O’Neill completely confused, just like his players on the pitch.
If Denmark’s first goal, an own goal by Cyrus Christie, was a bit disheartening for the Irish, Eriksen’s wonder goal in the 32nd minute completely broke them. O’Neill made two hurried substitutions at half time which completely tore apart his midfield, and instead of generating some pressure on Kasper Schmeichel’s goal, it allowed Eriksen and Denmark more and more freedom.
Eriksen scored two more goals, showing his complete superiority on the pitch, suggesting that Ireland’s lack of a World Class player in this encounter left them out of the World Cup. Nicklas Bendtner came on in the 84th minute as another stage of his recuperating career, and scored from the penalty spot after he was fouled in the 89th minute.
It’ll be the 5th World Cup appearance for Denmark, last playing in 2010, not making it out of the group stage. But with Eriksen playing the best football of his career, they might have found themselves a Michael or Brian Laudrup figure to carry them past the group stage, like in their World Cup appearances in 2002, 1998 and 1986.