The Republic of Ireland crashed out in an humiliating 5-1 loss to Denmark last night in front of a home crowd, thanks a prolific Christian Eriksen .
Despite Martin O’Neill’s side having the home advantage and taking the lead early on in 6th minute from the head of Shane Duffy, after conceding an own goal on the half hour mark the whole team soon unraveled.
Hopes were high going into this game after what would be considered a successful trip to Copenhagen and that early goal meant many thought that the game was sewn up already, but after the two goals in the space of 4 minutes, that illusion was quickly dashed.
After a fluffed clearance on the line from Cyrus Christie ended up in his own net and gave Denmark their away goal, Eriksen quickly netted the second with a fantastic strike from the edge of the area that was remarkable even by his standards.
This heaped huge pressure on the Irish side and they went into half time knowing they needed 2 more to qualify. Although they came out strong in the second half, after Eriksen got his second it was as good as over.
His second goal was another wonderful strike from again from the edge of the area, only outmatched in style and finesse by his first really highlighted his extraordinary talent.
Now 3-1 down, the Irish seemed deflated and it was a one sided a affair from then on in with Denmark in complete control.
Eriksen got his third just ten minutes later after an abysmal bit of defending from Ward, whose first touch sent the ball bounding 5 yards in front of him, laying the ball into the foot of Eriksen who made him pay dearly, smashing the ball into the roof of the net and securing his hat-trick in what will be a historic game for the Spurs man.
To really stick the knife in, Niklas Bendtner, who had been on for less than 10 minutes, was brought down in the area and then calmly and coolly slotted home the fifth and that was all she wrote for the Irish, with Denmark on their way to Russia in stunning form.
Naturally, Eriksen took home the match ball and man of the match honors in a wonderful performance. The one-time youngest player in the World Cup back in 2012 will return again to compete for the trophy and he looks hungry and ready for the challenge. He has now scored 11 times in the past 12 games and clearly still has a lot to give, so in June he will be a serious nuisance for defence any team Denmark are drawn with on December 1st.
To add insult to injury, Denmark Coach, Age Haeride, went as far to thank Ireland for allowing Eriksen to make such a mockery of their defence. He said in a post-game interview “Just to say (to Ireland), ‘thank you very much for giving us space’, because they locked us down in Parken very well and Eriksen was very much out of the game and today he was fantastic.”
Indeed, this was the case, Martin O’Neil detracted from usual protocol in this game and this is what cost them dearly. Had they kept the same formula as they did in the first leg, or even just resorted back to it after their goal, it may have been a different story.
Their diamond formation opened the game up for Eriksen, who simply can’t be allowed that much room, in essence, the result was caused by a critical management decision and it cost them their first World Cup in 14 years.
The wait continues for Republic Ireland, while the the main stage awaits for Denmark and diamond boy Eriksen.