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'Ireland made it a little bit easier for us because they played a diamond and left a lot of space'

Denmark boss Age Hareide was surprised by Martin O’Neill’s strategy.

Image: Morgan Treacy; ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy/INPHO

DENMARK MANAGER AGE Hareide admitted the Republic of Ireland’s approach ‘made it easier’ for the guests to conjure victory at the Aviva Stadium tonight.

Christian Eriksen scored a hat-trick while a Cyrus Christie own goal and penalty from Nicklas Bendtner ensured a remarkable 5-1 win for the Danes.

Hareide said that Martin O’Neill’s decision to use a diamond formation in midfield played into Denmark’s hands and ensured Eriksen had plenty of space to exploit.

“It’s difficult to play at Lansdowne,” he said.

“Ireland don’t concede too many goals and we knew that before the game. But we kept faith in training and knew that with a better surface to play on, we could play in between them. Also, Ireland made it a little bit easier for us because they played in a diamond with two strikers and that left a lot of space for Christian.”

Eriksen was unplayable from start to finish and, at 25, is undoubtedly enjoying the best form of his career for both club and country.

Source: The42.ie/YouTube

Hareide believes the Tottenham playmaker can rightfully be classed as one of the top-ten players in Europe right now.

“Absolutely in the top-10,” he said.

“It’s difficult to rank, but we saw against Real Madrid (in the Champions League) he is probably one of the best players in his position in Europe at the moment. Ronaldo, Messi and some strikers are playing as forwards. Christian is more a wide man or a central midfield player. He has this capability of scoring goals, making assists, finding space, so, definitely top-10.”

Christian Eriksen celebrates scoring their third goal with Thomas Delaney Source: Morgan Treacy; ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“All teams who succeed and go to a World Cup have star players to influence them. Christian showed that today.

He’s in a team now at Tottenham which wants to play football. They play football – we saw against Real Madrid that it suits him very well to play there. He has good players to play with, he has a good manager and I think he is enjoying his time at Tottenham at the moment.”

The 5-1 result and the manner of it – the fluidity and superb counter-attacking football –  will certainly turn heads. It will also provide the side with plenty of confidence ahead of next summer.

So, how far does Hareide think the Danes can go in Russia?

“I haven’t thought about that at the moment,” he said.

“I’m only pleased that we have qualified. In football, things change rather quickly. We have to have all our players fit. I think we – on our best days – can play good football, but we know that when you go to the World Cup you also meet very strong opposition. It depends what group you are in.

“I think it will be interesting and fascinating to go there and take this team. We want to develop, we want to get better and we want to play football, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 19.16.29 Denmark reached the World Cup quarter-finals in 1998 but were beaten by Brazil. Source: Michael Steele/EMPICS Sport

Denmark’s best performance at a World Cup was in 1998, when they reached the quarter-finals. But Hareide stopped short of making any predictions about 2018.

“It’s all down to the groups, the draw will be very important, for sure. (Finish) In front of Sweden, at least I hope so! If we have a chance to be seeded, then there’s a better chance to do well.”

Buy The42’s new book, Behind The Lines, here:

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Eoin O'Callaghan

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