Denmark 0 Republic of Ireland 0: O'Neill's men stand firm to set up second-leg showdown in Dublin

Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland side kept a third successive clean sheet to boost its hopes of reaching the World Cup in Russia.

Published : Nov 12, 2017 09:24 IST

Denmark's Christian Eriksen in action against Ireland on Saturday.
Denmark's Christian Eriksen in action against Ireland on Saturday.

Denmark's Christian Eriksen in action against Ireland on Saturday.

Denmark and the Republic of Ireland drew a blank in Copenhagen as the first leg of their World Cup play-off ended in a 0-0 stalemate.

Fittingly at the Parken Stadium, the visitor dropped deep and defended solidly to keep a third successive clean sheet that puts it in pole position to reach Russia ahead of the return meeting in Dublin.

The Danes struggled to break down their resolute opponents and even when they did occasionally get a sight of goal, Darren Randolph was on hand to keep them out.

The Middlesbrough goalkeeper made three key saves in the first half but was fortunate to see Pione Sisto shoot wide when well placed inside the penalty area.

READ: It's all to play for now - O'Neill happy enough after Copenhagen draw

Having won in Wales last time out to reach the next stage of the qualification process, Ireland can now secure a first World Cup appearance since 2002 on Tuesday.

Martin O'Neill made just one change from the side that triumphed 1-0 in Cardiff, a result that squeezed it past Wales to take second place behind Serbia in Group D.

With David Meyler suspended, Callum O'Dowda started on the right side of a midfield that, from the outset, was clearly drilled to deny Denmark any space inside its opponent's half.

The host attempted to combat the lack of room by going long, with a diagonal ball from halfway allowing Jens Stryger Larsen to get away a left-footed volley. Randolph acrobatically turned the effort aside before Andreas Cornelius sent the rebound straight at the grounded goalkeeper.

While Cornelius at least hit the target with his attempt, Sisto was guilty of carelessly side-footing beyond the far post after Randolph's weak save from Christian Eriksen's drive ran perfectly into the Celta Vigo forward's path.

Ireland's only chance of note in the first half came from an unlikely source, Cyrus Christie failing to lift a lob over the advancing Kasper Schmeichel from a tight angle.

The full-back was needed in his own penalty after the break to block a shot from Stryger Larsen, Christie ducking down to take the well-struck drive flush on the top of his head.

ALSO READ: Sweden 1 Italy 0: Johansson leaves Azzurri and Ventura on the brink

Yet Denmark rarely came close to landing a telling blow in terms of the tie; Age Hareide sent on attack-minded substitutes in Yussuf Poulsen and Nicklas Bendtner, with the former at least forcing Randolph to flick over his late header over the bar.

As the host ran out of ideas, Ireland's ambition levels were raised with every scoreless minute that ticked by. Shane Long - who scored twice in a 4-0 win on Danish soil a decade ago - replaced the isolated Daryl Murphy in the hope of utilising the Southampton striker's pace against a tiring defence.

The change did not get O'Neill the away goal he craved, but Ireland at least held firm through to the final whistle and, in the process, set up a huge occasion at the Aviva Stadium.


Key Opta stats:


Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment