Christian Eriksen scored a superb hat trick as Denmark qualified for next year’s World Cup with an emphatic 5-1 victory over Ireland in their playoff on Tuesday.
With last week’s first leg having finished 0-0, Ireland made an ideal start to the return match by taking the lead in the sixth minute through defender Shane Duffy.
But Denmark’s players gradually took control in midfield and were rewarded when Andreas Christensen’s effort went into the net off Ireland’s Cyrus Christie in the 29th minute.
Eriksen then stole the show, putting the visitors ahead in the 32nd minute, and scoring two more after the break.
Nicklas Bendtner turned a deserved victory into a rout when he converted a penalty in the 90th minute.
Next year’s tournament in Russia will be Denmark’s fifth World Cup appearance and first since 2010.
Yet a raucous home crowd in Dublin had been treated to the perfect start when Robbie Brady’s free kick from just beyond the halfway line was flicked on by Denmark’s Nicolai Jorgensen. The ball rose into the path of center back Duffy, who headed home.
Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney had said after the first leg that breaching the Ireland defense was like “opening a can of baked beans with your bare hands – it takes time”.