After missing out on the last two editions of the World Cup, Denmark has punched its ticket to Russia 2018, thanks to three spectacular goals from their superstar Christian Eriksen. His hat trick helped Denmark to a 5-1 win on the night and on aggregate over the Republic of Ireland.
Ireland actually got off to a spectacular start, causing Aviva Stadium to erupt when Shane Duffy scored a header to give his team the lead.
But Denmark got back into the match in slightly fortunate fashion. Pione Sisto did some incredible work just after a set piece to get the ball to Andreas Christensen, though his shot wasn’t clearly goal-bound. Still, he got enough on it to give Cyrus Christie some problems, and the Irish defender pushed the ball into his own net instead of clearing.
The match stayed even for a couple of minutes after that, with Ireland keeping possession and looking capable of pushing for an equalizer. But they were quickly undone by a precise counter attack, and a spectacular finish by Eriksen. Darren Randolph had no chance to save this rocket off the underside of the crossbar.
Poulsen provides the pressure, Eriksen the magic.— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 14, 2017
What a counter attack by Denmark to take control of the tie. https://t.co/5yNtCg5QEY
From there, Denmark took control of the match. But Eriksen crushed Ireland’s hopes of a comeback completely in the second half with a second goal nearly as good as his first.
Eriksen completed his hat trick in the 74th minute, tallying his 11th goal in the qualifying tournament and his 15th in his last 15 Denmark caps.
Denmark completed their pile-on of Ireland with an 88th-minute penalty, won by Nicklas Bendtner. He drew a foul on James McClean, then converted the spot kick himself.
This is the fourth consecutive time that the Republic of Ireland has failed to qualify for the World Cup. They missed out on the 2010 tournament in controversial fashion, with Thierry Henry sending France past the Irish with an assist that featured a blatant handball. Ireland has made the last two editions of the European Championships, but has yet to convert those good showings into World Cup qualifying success.
Denmark last qualified for the World Cup in 2010, when they were knocked out in the group stage. With Eriksen running the show in the middle, Danes will be hoping this squad can match the accomplishments of the 1998 team, which made the quarterfinals with legends like Peter Schmeichel and Michael Laudrup.