The home side were demolished by Denmark on Tuesday, putting an end to their World Cup hopes
Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill rued a “comedy of mistakes” after his side were thrashed 5-1 by Denmark in their World Cup qualifying play-off.
A suffocating goalless draw in Copenhagen was followed by a rollicking affair in Dublin, one which the Irish started superbly, taking a sixth-minute lead through Shane Duffy.
But Age Hareide’s men stuck to their task and a Cyrus Christie own goal was followed by Christian Eriksen’s superb hat-trick before Nicklas Bendtner’s penalty capped a brutal Danish demolition job.
However, having seen Daryl Murphy and James McClean narrowly miss half-chances with Ireland still ahead, O’Neill lamented his side’s inability to keep the pressure on.
“We were well beaten in the end,” O’Neill told RTE. “No question about that.
“We obviously got off to a great start and perhaps James’ second goal [if it was scored] might have made a big difference in the game.
“We conceded two really sloppy goals in a matter of minutes and it was a long way back after that.
“The goals are so sloppy when you look back at them. They are so, so bad.
“There is two-on-one for a corner and Harry [Arter] gets beaten but we should still be able to clear the ball and we haven’t done that and the next goal is a comedy of mistakes.
“The whole mindset changes, you are 2-1 down in a matter of minutes when perhaps six minutes earlier you could have been 2-0 up.”
Trailing 2-1 at the break, O’Neill introduced Aiden McGeady and Wes Hoolahan in place of David Meyler and Arter, but it only served to provide the space for Eriksen to put the game to bed.
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Danish coach Age Hareide thanked O’Neill for opening the game up in his post-match interview, but the Irish boss was satisfied with his tactical decision.
“That’s the name of the game, we have to go for it. There is no point in dying wondering. We had to get two goals back,” O’Neill added.
“We’re capable of coming back from it. We’ve been beaten but been beaten in a play-off game. In the end we have lost a play-off game to take us to a World Cup. We’ll come back again.”