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Dublin: 11°C Friday 16 April 2021

'It wasn’t pretty' - Here's how the Danish media reacted to last night's World Cup play-off

An ugly, at times unwatchable stalemate — but it’s still all to play for on Tuesday for both sides.

Christian Eriksen walks off the pitch at Telia Parken following his side's 0-0 draw on Saturday.
Christian Eriksen walks off the pitch at Telia Parken following his side's 0-0 draw on Saturday.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IT WASN’T THE all-encompassing, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it, expansive battle you might expect at this level of international football, but last night’s 0-0 stalemate between Ireland and Denmark was what it was.

The stakes are incredibly high and at this stage either side would do whatever it takes to get the World Cup finals in Russia.

The result means any win on the night in Dublin will take Ireland through on Tuesday.

However the failure to secure an away goal in Copenhagen also means any score draw within 90 minutes will see Denmark progress.

Neither side gave a proper account of themselves during a disappointing first leg, with the audible sound of boos ringing around Telia Parken perhaps showing that Ireland can take more positives from the scoreless draw than their clearly frustrated opponents.

The Danish media reflected that sentiment this morning.

‘Denmark held by Ireland in drab World Cup play-off’, read one headline from The Local.

It continued: “Much of Saturday night’s game was characterised by Denmark’s long-ball tactics being comfortably dealt with by Ireland’s well-drilled and physical defence.”

It states that Ireland’s approach of sitting deep and inviting pressure eventually paid off, with Kasper Schmeichel’s save denying Cyrus Christie’s clever solo run into the box the only real threat O’Neill’s side poised on the night.

It was the Danish number one’s opposite number Darren Randolph who received a host of praise from the nation’s press pack this morning.

“The two sides will now reconvene at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Tuesday where Denmark will know that a score draw in 90 minutes will see them through to Russia on the away goals rule”, read The Copenhagen Post.

Aage Hareide Aage Hareide will fancy his side's chances at getting a result in Dublin despite a poor opening performance. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“But that will require them to do what they couldn’t manage tonight in front of a partisan crowd: get the better of an inspired goalkeeper, Darren Randolph, and a resolute defence in which right back Cyrus Christie had a particularly good game.

“It wasn’t pretty at times, and the visitors weren’t the only ones to take a cautious approach.”

In the lead-up to Saturday’s first leg, Denmark manager Age Hareide said he would settle for a 0-0 draw, however it could not be denied the angry and flustered character he cast during his post-match press conference.

“I don’t know what you expect from international football,” he complained at an Irish journalist who asked if his side had not played well. “What’s the problem? You can say what you want. I wouldn’t say that. No, I don’t think it was a poor game. We created chances.”

Much of Denmark’s media were not entirely impressed with his side’s meek display, however.

“Denmark must be disappointed with 0-0 against Ireland”, said the daily broadsheet Politiken.

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It read: “On Saturday many Irish fans sang in the streets of Copenhagen before the first leg of their World Cup play-off. And after the show the songs were renewed, because Ireland were the ones who were celebrating (again).”

But the quote of the night undoubtedly went to the Danish defender with a curiously Irish surname.

When describing his experience of playing against Ireland, where his paternal great grandfather was born, Thomas Delaney likened the task to opening a tin of beans.

“We can draw 1-1 against Ireland, and then we are on,” he said speaking to sports magazine Tipsbladet.

“So that’s OK, but it was a hard fight — as expected and feared. We tried and tried, but it was a bit like opening a can of baked beans with your bare hands — it takes time.”

As is being said both at home and abroad this Sunday morning, for both sides the play-off is still all very much to play for.

With a win on the night sending either side through, both O’Neill and ex-Norwich team-mate Hareide will fancy their chances of booking a place in Russia come the final whistle at Landsdowne Road.

Ireland’s away record this qualifying campaign stacks in comparison to a poor home record which saw draws with both Austria and Wales, as well as a dreary defeat to group winners Serbia.

The long-ball tactics of their opponents was a surprise to the Irish core, as many expected better of the highly-rated and technically superior Danes.

Their experience, however, of playing against a resolute and compact Irish unit which revelled in avoiding football which was easy on the eyes was hard to take.

They may fear they cannot bear a second dose enough to eke out a result, but will head into Tuesday knowing it is within their armoury.

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Aaron Gallagher

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