Denmark seal Euro 2020 place with Ireland draw
DUBLIN – Denmark got the point they needed to seal a place at Euro 2020 as Group D runners-up with a 1-1 draw in Ireland on Monday that consigned the hosts to the playoffs for the third successive tournament.
A 73rd minute Martin Braithwaite goal set the 1992 European champions on their way to celebrating qualification in Dublin for the second tournament in a row after a 5-1 win almost two years ago to the day had sent them to last year's World Cup.
But they had to survive a late onslaught when Ireland, the better side throughout, scored only their seventh goal in eight qualifiers when Matt Doherty headed home after 85 minutes but they could not get the win they needed to qualify automatically.
While no other team in contention across the 10 groups had hit the net as infrequently, Ireland possessed one of the best defensive records, so chances were unsurprisingly few and far between in the first half.
It took 34 minutes for a shot on target and when the ball fell fortuitously to an open Conor Hourihane on the edge of the Denmark box, the Aston Villa midfielder should have done better than stroke the ball straight at goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Denmark, who lost midfielder Thomas Delaney and striker Andreas Cornelius to injuries in the first 30 minutes, were a shadow of the side that ran riot in Dublin two years earlier but their opponents were far more disciplined this time.
Having drawn four of the other five meetings with Ireland in the last two years, the Danes appeared happy to settle for another stalemate until Braithwaite ghosted in behind Doherty to nudge his side into the lead against the run of play.
Ireland manager Mick McCarthy said in the build-up that he would have been happy for the game to be alive with 20 minutes to go but scoring twice was beyond his side as Doherty's first goal for his country was all they could muster.
Denmark, whose capital, like Dublin, will be one of the tournament's host cities next year, finished three points ahead of Ireland after the two sides' second draw of the campaign to join group winners Switzerland in the finals.
Ireland must wait until the playoffs begin in March to see if they can follow suit via a route they have successfully navigated in the last two European Championships.Reuters