The last remaining European qualifying spot for the 2018 World Cup in Russia goes to Denmark after a Christian Eriksen inspired victory sends Ireland packing in front of their home fans.
England is the only nation from the British Isles and Ireland that will receive a Russian stamp on their passport after Christian Eriksen tore the Republic of Ireland to shreds in the final European World Cup Play-Off.
Martin O’Neill’s side did a sterling job of keeping Eriksen quiet during the goalless first leg in Denmark, but the Spurs star showed how devastatingly clinical he can be with even an inch to spare.
And it should have been so very different, with Ireland taking the lead in front of a packed house in only six minutes. Robbie Brady taking route one with a free kick from the halfway line, the Danes failed to clear the lines, and Shane Duffy nutted the ball over the onrushing Kasper Schmeichel.
The bookies had Denmark pegged as the favourites in this one, and they began to show their quality as Ireland sat back and defended their lead and an own goal in the 29th minute changed things dramatically.
Pione Sisto, who was superb all night, found some space on the left, drilled in a low cross, and Andreas Christensen got his big toe on the ball; it cannoned off the thigh of Cyrus Christie and into the net.
The Irish players hadn’t cleared their cobwebs when they conceded again. Eriksen found space at the edge of the penalty area, the ball fell at the wizard’s feet, and he rifled it into the net via the underside of the bar.
The second half saw Ireland huff and puff, but they couldn’t blow the well-drilled home of the Danes down. Then in the 63rd minute, Sisto set up Eriksen to score his second of the game, and the 11-men in green knew in their hearts that it was all over.
Eriksen has been the man for Denmark during this campaign, and he scored his 10th goal, and his hat-trick, in the 73rd minute taking advantage of a terrible clearance from Stephen Ward. Niklas Bendtner confounded Irish misery when he scored Denmarks’s fifth from the penalty spot with time running out.
It’s the fifth time the Danes have reached the World Cup, and the first time since 2010. Age Hariede’s men head to Russia as a 100/1 shot, and if you fancy your outsiders then why not take a punt? Denmark is unbeaten in 2017 winning four and drawing four, and who can forget their incredible underdog performance when winning the European Championship in 1992.
Full List of European Qualifiers (And Odds Courtesy of Oddsshark)
Outright Winning Odds