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Republic of Ireland still planning to win ugly vs Denmark

Republic of Ireland still planning to win ugly in crucial second-leg World Cup play-off showdown with Denmark

  • Republic of Ireland and Denmark will battle it out for a place at the World Cup
  • The first leg in Copenhagen finished in a goalless draw as both sides stood firm
  • Nicklas Bendtner insists Ireland were booed in the first leg because of their style

By Craig Hope for the Daily Mail

Published: 22:30 GMT, 12 November 2017 | Updated: 23:02 GMT, 12 November 2017

Come June 14 and the first ball kicked of Russia 2018, not a soul will remember or even care about the aesthetics of qualification. It was, however, the only topic of conversation in Copenhagen on Saturday night.

Ireland were ugly. They had spoilt the spectacle. The Danish boos, said striker Nicklas Bendtner, were not for the home team, but for the entertainment. 'F******…' he started, before checking himself. 'It wasn't an exciting match.'

Shane Duffy, the impassible Ireland defender, had the perfect riposte. 'This is a World Cup we're going for, it doesn't matter how we get through, as long as we do,' said the Brighton centre back.

Republic of Ireland are preparing to win by all means necessary in their crucial second leg tie

Republic of Ireland are preparing to win by all means necessary in their crucial second leg tie

Duffy is right. The end justifies the means in this case. Ireland have been unsightly since their draw in the campaign opener in Serbia. As fourth seeds in the group, they have had to be. That is why they are now here – one home victory away from their first World Cup in 16 years. That is what matters, not the lager-laden jeers of the grumpy locals.

Denmark were not good enough to beat Ireland. Simple. Christian Eriksen? Anonymous. Yes, visiting goalkeeper Darren Randolph made three fine saves and every Dane who emerged to reflect made reference of that. But the idea is to beat the keeper, not bemoan his presence.

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Denmark boss Age Hareide believes there will be more space for his players in Dublin on Tuesday night. He is wrong.

'The game plan will be the same,' said Duffy, with a statement hardly likely to entice the casual viewer.

Denmark talisman Christian Eriksen was largely nullified in the first match by the Ireland ranks

Denmark talisman Christian Eriksen was largely nullified in the first match by the Ireland ranks

'We've still got to respect them, they've got players who can cut you open. When our time is to score, that will be when… You can't get ahead of yourselves and go all guns blazing and lose the match early on.'

Denmark will have to be as creative as Bendtner's attire to break down Martin O'Neill's stubborn side. Afterwards, the former Arsenal man wore a navy suit, silver trainers and a black cap, flipped backwards. Unsurprisingly, he thinks Denmark remain favourites.

'We have a slight advantage given the fact that if both teams score we are going through,' he sounded.

Eriksen agreed. 'I feel that we will have our chance in Dublin, I'm really confident,' said the Spurs playmaker.

The pressure is on Eriksen to perform and he knows it.

'Every player wants to send their country to a World Cup, it is the biggest thing you can achieve,' he added.

'I will try to take my chances. I tried that here but the last pass wasn't good enough.

Ireland's playing style in the first leg was largely criticised by the Danish supporters

Ireland's playing style in the first leg was largely criticised by the Danish supporters

'But they will be scared of us scoring a goal, that would be a big hit. The first goal is very important.'

It might be that the first goal we see is in a penalty shootout. Randolph says he hasn't been involved in one since he was 13, but he'll be doing his homework over the next 24 hours.

'You'll have players that aren't regular penalty takers. You'd be silly not to have a look,' he said.

'That'll obviously be in our plans and preparations.'

For that to happen it would require another goalless draw. It won't be pretty, but who cares? Certainly not O'Neill and Ireland.

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