Mick McCarthy says the Republic of Ireland have no-one to fear in the play-offs after his side fell agonisingly short of automatic Euro 2020 qualification following a draw with Denmark at the Aviva Stadium

The Irish created plenty of chances with one of their best performances in recent years, but Matt Doherty’s 85th-minute equaliser came too late as they chased the win they needed.

Martin Braithwaite got in behind Doherty to stab home Henrik Dalsgaard’s cross and open the scoring from Denmark’s first shot on target – one of only two they had in the game.

The point means the Republic of Ireland finished third in Group D and will have to hope for success through the play-offs, which take place next March.

They could be drawn against either Bosnia-Herzegovina, Wales or Slovakia, and McCarthy said: “We can beat anyone in the play-offs.

“The players will go back to their clubs and we don’t have a game until March. I’ll be getting round them and reminding them it has been a good campaign and that we can play like that, so why not play like that in March?

The Irish will rue their finishing against Denmark, with Conor Hourihane missing a glorious chance in the first half.

Doherty’s header from Enda Stevens’ cross set up a thrilling finale in a deafening atmosphere but they could not create that one last chance they needed.

The Irish players collapsed to the ground at the final whistle knowing they had given everything – as their fans gave them a standing ovation despite falling just short in the end.

“I am immensely proud of the players,” McCarthy added on Sky Sports. “They pushed them right to the limit. If my players and my team leave everything on the pitch I will take the result as it comes so I will have to take the defeat.

“You just need that bit of luck. We had opportunities but I am not going to criticise the lads – they have been brilliant. We lost one game out of eight. I’m very proud of them.”

Frustrating night for the Republic

Martin Braithwaite
Denmark striker Martin Braithwaite celebrates after scoring the opening goal

Memories were still fresh of Denmark’s 5-1 demolition of the Irish at this venue back in the 2018 World Cup play-off.

This was nothing like that.

Two years ago Christian Eriksen tore Martin O’Neill’s side to shreds with a hat-trick. But here, McCarthy’s side really had a go, with some quality passing, running and invention.

Had they taken their earlier chances, the outcome might have been very different.

Hourihane should have finished from David McGoldrick’s pass but shot straight at Kasper Schmeichel.

Then McGoldrick headed down to Alan Browne, whose sweet volley was just wide. The lively McGoldrick had a go himself and shot over from distance.

Ciaran Clark, a half-time substitute for the injured John Egan, also headed a couple of chances over the bar.

One big plus to come from this is renewed optimism for next year’s play-offs.

Recent dire performances against Switzerland and Georgia had removed a lot of confidence, but this showing was something else.

Sadly their play-off is likely to be away from home and away from their magnificent fans, who cheered their team all the way throughout the game.

The Republic end with only seven goals from eight games – Doherty’s was the fourth header of the campaign.

But if they had played like this before, it would have been a different story entirely.

Man of the match – David McGoldrick (Republic of Ireland)

David McGoldrick
David McGoldrick’s hold-up and link-up play gave the Irish the opportunity to attack – he was involved in most of their first-half chances

Unbeaten Danes go through – the stats

  • Republic of Ireland are without a win in their last six meetings with Denmark (D5 L1), drawing each of the last four.
  • Denmark remain the only undefeated side in Group D (P8 W4 D4 L0) and haven’t lost any of their last 17 European/World Cup qualifying matches (W10 D7).
  • The first shot of the game came on 26 minutes, courtesy of an effort from Christian Eriksen, the longest wait for the opening attempt in any Euro 2020 qualifying game so far.
  • All seven of the Republic of Ireland’s goals in the Euro 2020 qualifiers have come via different players (incl. one own-goal).
  • Martin Braithwaite has scored in three consecutive international matches for Denmark after netting just one goal in total in his eight before that.
  • Matt Doherty’s equaliser for Republic of Ireland was the first goal Denmark conceded in 600 minutes of action, ending Kasper Schmeichel’s run of five consecutive clean sheets for his country.

Line-ups

R. of Ireland

  • 23Randolph
  • 2Doherty
  • 4Duffy
  • 5EganSubstituted forClarkat 45′minutes
  • 3Stevens
  • 6WhelanBooked at 55minsSubstituted forMaguireat 82′minutes
  • 14HourihaneSubstituted forRobinsonat 68′minutes
  • 8Browne
  • 13Hendrick
  • 11McCleanBooked at 78mins
  • 9McGoldrick

Substitutes

  • 1O’Hara
  • 7Maguire
  • 10Brady
  • 12Robinson
  • 15Long
  • 16Travers
  • 17Clark
  • 18Byrne
  • 19Judge
  • 20Cullen
  • 21Parrott
  • 22Collins

Denmark

  • 1SchmeichelBooked at 90mins
  • 14Dalsgaard
  • 4Kjaer
  • 13M Jorgensen
  • 17Stryger Larsen
  • 8DelaneySubstituted forHøjbjergat 13′minutes
  • 19SchöneBooked at 33minsSubstituted forChristensenat 84′minutes
  • 20Poulsen
  • 11Braithwaite
  • 10Eriksen
  • 21CorneliusSubstituted forDolbergat 33′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Ankersen
  • 3Andersen
  • 5Knudsen
  • 6Christensen
  • 7Skov
  • 9Gytkjær
  • 12Dolberg
  • 15Nørgaard
  • 16Hansen
  • 18Wass
  • 22Rönnow
  • 23Højbjerg
Referee:Dr. Felix Brych

Match Stats

Home TeamR. of IrelandAway TeamDenmark
Possession
Home52%
Away48%
Shots
Home15
Away3
Shots on Target
Home3
Away2
Corners
Home8
Away3
Fouls
Home9
Away10

Live Text

Match ends, Republic of Ireland 1, Denmark 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Republic of Ireland 1, Denmark 1.

Attempt missed. Alan Browne (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Booking

Kasper Schmeichel (Denmark) is shown the yellow card.

Attempt missed. Enda Stevens (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is high and wide to the right.

Attempt blocked. James McClean (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Attempt missed. Ciaran Clark (Republic of Ireland) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Jeff Hendrick with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Zanka.

Attempt blocked. Sean Maguire (Republic of Ireland) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by David McGoldrick with a cross.

Attempt saved. Christian Eriksen (Denmark) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Yussuf Poulsen.

Goal!

Goal! Republic of Ireland 1, Denmark 1. Matt Doherty (Republic of Ireland) header from the right side of the six yard box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Enda Stevens with a cross.

Substitution

Substitution, Denmark. Andreas Christensen replaces Lasse Schöne.

Attempt saved. James McClean (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Enda Stevens.

Attempt blocked. James McClean (Republic of Ireland) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jeff Hendrick with a cross.

Substitution

Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Sean Maguire replaces Glenn Whelan.

Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Zanka.

Attempt blocked. David McGoldrick (Republic of Ireland) with an attempt from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Callum Robinson with a cross.

Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Henrik Dalsgaard.

Booking

James McClean (Republic of Ireland) is shown the yellow card.

Martin Braithwaite (Denmark) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by James McClean (Republic of Ireland).

Henrik Dalsgaard (Denmark) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by David McGoldrick (Republic of Ireland).

Goal!

Goal! Republic of Ireland 0, Denmark 1. Martin Braithwaite (Denmark) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Henrik Dalsgaard with a cross.

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Denmark) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by James McClean (Republic of Ireland).

Substitution

Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Callum Robinson replaces Conor Hourihane.

Attempt missed. David McGoldrick (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Pierre-Emile Højbjerg.

Foul by Simon Kjaer (Denmark).

Jeff Hendrick (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Kasper Dolberg (Denmark).

Conor Hourihane (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Ciaran Clark (Republic of Ireland) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Conor Hourihane with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Zanka.

Offside, Republic of Ireland. David McGoldrick tries a through ball, but Jeff Hendrick is caught offside.

Booking

Glenn Whelan (Republic of Ireland) is shown the yellow card.

Jens Stryger Larsen (Denmark) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Glenn Whelan (Republic of Ireland).

Foul by Yussuf Poulsen (Denmark).

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