Christian Eriksen hat-trick propels Denmark to the 2018 World Cup
A formidable Christian Eriksen hat-trick has this evening seen Denmark qualify for the World Cup finals for the fifth time in their history.
The result was never in doubt once Denmark scored twice in quick succession midway through the first half after falling behind to an early Irish goal.
Whereas the Republic of Ireland efficiently contained Eriksen in a dour 0-0 draw at Parken on Saturday, he was given the freedom of the park in Dublin and duly popped up unmarked to finish off a free-flowing Danish move with an emphatic strike off the underside of the bar to give his side a 2-1 lead at the break.
Two more followed for the Tottenham Hotspur playmaker in the second half: a beautifully controlled curler into the bottom left and then a boy’s own rocket into the top right after some untidy play from the Irish defence.
Nicklas Bendtner had time to come off the bench and claim and convert a penalty to see the Danes home 5-1 on the night and on aggregate.
In total Eriksen scored an impressive 11 goals in qualifying.
Denmark previously played in the World Cup in 1986, 1998, 2002 and 2010.
It was always going to be Denmark’s night if they could find their A game, and besides Ericksen, the likes of Pione Sisto and Andreas Christensen also rose to the challenge.
If any one moment summed up the gulf in class, it was the home side’s double substitution at half-time.
In the 1994 World Cup trailing 0-2 to the Netherlands, they were able to call on the likes of Jason Macteer and Tony ‘I once had an Irish wolfhound’ Cascarino from the bench.
Tonight, again needing two goals to save the game, they threw on Aiden McGeady of Sunderland and Wes Hoolahan of Norwich City – two players at English Championship sides, the division that national coach Martin O’Neill recruits over half his squad from.
History has shown you can win the English Premier League with kids, but you certainly can’t win the World Cup with a team from the English Championship.