Denmark 1 Republic of Ireland 1: Duffy header denies hosts in Copenhagen

By Daniel Lewis 8 June 2019 229
Denmark 1 Republic of Ireland 1: Duffy header denies hosts in Copenhagen

Shane Duffy powered home a late header to cancel out Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's opener as the Republic of Ireland battled to a 1-1 draw with Denmark, maintaining their unbeaten start to Euro 2020 qualifying.

The sides were on course to play out a fourth stalemate in five matches since November 2017 until a dramatic finish to Friday's Group D fixture in Copenhagen.

Substitute Hojbjerg got in front of Richard Keogh to break Ireland's resolve 14 minutes from time, only for Duffy to level up nine minutes later to keep Ireland in a strong position at the top of the table.

Mick McCarthy's men, unconvincing 1-0 winners over Gibraltar and Georgia in their first two qualifiers, sit five points ahead of their opponents but have played a game more.

Darren Randolph was equal to Christian Eriksen's free-kick and also a low shot from Martin Braithwaite as the hosts tried to find their feet in a tepid opening 45 minutes.

A whipped delivery from Conor Hourihane caused some panic in the Denmark box in the best of Ireland's first-half openings, but Kasper Schmeichel got down to block Duffy's hooked attempt on the line.

The game did open up in the second half, with Randolph denying Yussuf Poulsen and James McClean testing Schmeichel with an angled drive less than two minutes later.

Hojbjerg proved to be an inspired change when he guided Jens Stryger Larsen's cross past Randolph, putting the Danes on course for a first victory in the campaign.

However, they failed to retain their lead through to the final whistle, as Alan Judge whipped the ball into the middle and Duffy climbed high to head the free-kick beyond Schmeichel.

What does it mean? Unbeaten Ireland lead the way

Ireland have taken seven points from their first three outings to sit in top spot, though there is still a long way to go in the qualification battle.

Beaten Nations League semi-finalists Switzerland occupy second place, sitting three points behind Ireland but having played just twice so far.

Duffy a difference at both ends

As well as being a solid presence at the back, with no visiting player managing more tackles and interceptions, Duffy also made a big impact at the opposite end of the field with his equaliser.

Eriksen subdued by Ireland

Eriksen announced after Tottenham's 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in the Champions League final that he would like a new challenge in his career. But, like in Madrid last Saturday, the playmaker could not make an impact as Denmark toiled for long spells.

Key Opta facts

- The Republic of Ireland are unbeaten in their last five games (W2 D3), their best run since going six games without defeat from August 2016 to March 2017.
- Denmark are now unbeaten in eight games in all competitions (W4 D4). However, they have drawn each of their last four games in this run.
- Ireland failed to score in the first half - this was their ninth consecutive away game without doing so. They last found the net before half-time on the road against Georgia in September 2017.
- Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was the first player to score against a Republic of Ireland side managed by Mick McCarthy since Fabio Celestini for Switzerland in October 2002.
- All three of Shane Duffy’s international goals have been headers, two of which have been scored against Denmark (also in November 2017).

What's next? 

Denmark return to action on Monday with a home qualifier against Georgia, who were 3-0 winners over Ireland's next opponents Gibraltar in the other Group D fixture to take place on Friday.

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Daniel Lewis