Brave Ireland come up just short and March playoffs await

– By James Clancy

With tonight’s match at the Aviva Stadium being the sixth time the Republic of Ireland have played Denmark in the last two years, the Scandinavians are indeed familiar foes.

Having drawn four and lost one of the previous five clashes between the nations, the chances of Ireland securing the win required to book automatic qualification were slim realistically.

Denmark proceeded to score with their only shot on target in the 73rd minute.

From there – and for most of the second-half – it was all Ireland and though Matt Doherty equalized with a terrific header in the 86th minute, it wasn’t enough and Ireland now face the Euro 2020 playoffs in March.

It would have been the first time Ireland qualified automatically for a major tournament since the 1994 World Cup.

Crowd were in great voice at what appears to be a sold-out Aviva Stadium.

Ireland wearing green shirts, white shorts and green socks. As it should be at home.

Having nearly died on the training pitch a few short years ago, Shane Duffy captains Ireland for the first time tonight.

John Egan goes in with a full blooded header inside the second minute to win a free-kick for the home side.

Crowd have been in great voice and the vast majority of the full house do “Stand up for the boys in green”.

Hendrick tries to play McGoldrick in but Schmeichel gathers and hammers the ball unceremoniously into touch with Thomas Delaney on the ground injured. Delaney’s ankle appears to have given way under a tackle with Alan Browne. He won’t likely continue.

Delaney tries to come back on and Denmark are down to ten men briefly.

Pierre Emile Hojbjerg comes on to replace Delaney in the 11th minute.

In the opening quarter, Ireland certainly see more of the ball than in previous encounters.

Eriksen dropping deep as he hasn’t seen much of the ball. Early on that is.

Hendrick gives the ball away cheaply when Ireland had a chance to build a good attack close to the edge of the Danish box.

McClean jumps under a ball played out to him from Randolph. McClean is a great trier but he struggles for quality.

Ireland looking to play the ball back to Randolph in goal too often. Randolph has good feet but it only takes one mistake.

Eriksen has a chance from a tight angle just inside the Irish box but Duffy gets back in the nick of time and he blocks for a Danish corner, though, not sure the Irish captain knew much about it.

Andreas Cornelius gets his head bandaged up like Terry Butcher following a clash with John Egan.

Duffy does well to head the resulting corner-kick away.

The game has the feel of a mid-table Premier League game with Egan and Duffy rocks at the back for Ireland.

Hourihane with a great chance on 33 minutes. He’s played in on goal, in on Schmeichel but the Cork man scuffs his shot into the Danish ‘keeper’s arms from 12 yards out. He’ll be rueing that he didn’t smash it. Crowd in great voice now.

Alan Browne has a strike from 30 yards out on the half-volley which flies half a yard wide of the far post with Schmeichel struggling. Ireland really coming into it eight minutes before half-time.

McGoldrick gets on the ball a few minutes before half-time, advances a few yards and smashes an effort just wide from 30 yards, though Schmeichel appeared to have it covered.

The ball flashes across the Ireland goal just before half-time but the referee has blown his whistle for a push on mountain Shane Duffy.

McClean does well to win a corner-kick off Kjaer on the stroke of half-time. Good ball played across from Whelan but Duffy can’t quite get on the end of it.

There hasn’t been much in it but Ireland had the better of the chances, especially when Hourihane got in one-on-one on Schmeichel.

Ciaran Clark replaces John Egan at half-time. Egan had a bang to the head and looked to not have shaken it off.

Ireland starting on the front foot in the second-half, winning a couple of early corners.

The ball flashes across the face of the goal from a great ball from Hourihane and Schmeichel just about bats it away.

Whelan booked for a full-blooded two-footed tackle on Larsen on 53 minutes.

Following a great run from Doherty, McClean plays a poor ball across the box which is cleared just before the hour mark.

Ireland win a corner following good work from McGoldrick and the crowd are in great voice.

Great play from Doherty who wins the ball on the edge of his box, rounds his man and plays a good ball into midfield.

Ball bobbles around in the Danish penalty area but McGoldrick fires well over the ball on the turn.

Ireland are going to go for it as Callum Robinson comes on for Hourihane midway through the second-half.

Denmark take the lead against the run of play with the ball played across to Braithwaite who finishes to the net first time from six yards out with 17 minutes to play. Doherty was caught out of position, he should have been tracking the runner.

Denmark get everyone back behind the ball in the final ten minutes.

Last throw of the dice for Ireland on 81 minutes as striker Seáni Maguire comes on for midfielder Glenn Whelan.

Goalmouth scramble immediately results in the Danish six-yard box but they clear.

McClean shoots from distance but it’s straight at Schmeichel.

Duffy to play up front from the 83rd minute.

Doherty made up for error by powering a terrific eight-yard header to the net with five minutes to play.

It was a grandstand finish but Ireland couldn’t force the winner and it’s the playoffs in March now for Mick McCarthy’s men, most likely against Wales or Slovakia.

The Danes meanwhile progress to the Euro 2020 finals as runners-up in the group but they can count themselves to come away from Dublin with a result tonight.

Republic of Ireland: 23 Randolph; 2 Doherty, 4 Duffy (c), 5 Egan, 3 Stevens; 8 Browne, 6 Whelan, 13 Hendrick, 14 Hourihane, 11 McClean; 9 McGoldrick.

SUBSTITUTES: 5 Clark for Egan (H/T), 14 Robinson for Hourihane (67 mins),

Denmark: 1 Schmeichel; 14 Dalsgaard, 13 Jorgensen, 4 Kjaer (c), 17 Stryger Larsen; 19 Schone, 8 Delaney; 20 Poulsen, 10 Eriksen, 11 Braithwaite; 21 Cornelius

SUBSTITUTES: 23 Hojbjerg for Delaney (13 mins), 12 Dolberg for Cornelius (33 mins), 6 Andreas Christensen for Schone (83 mins).

Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)

Attendance: 51,000



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