Relegated Republic of Ireland held to listless deadlock by Denmark
UEFA Nations League, Idrætspark - Denmark 0 Ireland 0
The Republic of Ireland looked low on confidence as they sat back during a 0-0 draw with Denmark in Aarhus.
Martin O’Neill’s side, who started the game with six defenders on the pitch, did not manage a shot on target and boasted just 30% possession.
With Denmark’s Nations League promotion and Ireland’s relegation confirmed before kickoff, there was little at stake on a chilly evening at Aarhus’ Idrætspark. Despite the low stakes, and Ireland’s failure to score in their previous three outings, O’Neill set up with a highly defensive side. Most of the game was played in Ireland’s half.
In a listless opening 45 minutes, the visitors looked low on confidence as they sat back and allowed the Danes to come forward with the ball. Denmark were frequently frustrated by the rigid Irish back line, struggling to get a foothold in the game. Their best chance of the opening half came from a Christian Eriksen free kick, which sailed narrowly over the bar.
The Danes came close to breaking the deadlock with around 20 minutes to go, when Richard Keogh was dispossessed by Mathias Jorgensen. The Feyenoord forward beat Darren Randolph but saw his placed shot hit the post. Substitute Christian Gytkjar came close in the final minute of normal time, but his effort rippled the side netting.
Denmark will advance to Nations League Group A for the 2010-21 competition, while Ireland will head down to League C. Wales, the other team in Group 4, will remain in League B.
Will O’Neill keep his job?
The Republic of Ireland are not in a good state. With one win in their last 11 outings and a meek exit from Nations League B, the Irish are low on confidence and ideas.
Qualifiers for the European Championships begin in March - judging by the discontent among fans and product on the pitch, it’s not unreasonable to imagine the national team parting company with O’Neill.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Yussuf Poulsen (Denmark). There were few standout players in this dead rubber, but Poulsen was involved in many of Denmark’s best attacking moves. The RB Leipzig forward had two shots and won all three of his aerial duels.
DENMARK: Ronnow 6, Ankersen 7, Zanka 7, Bjelland 7, Knudsen 7, Hojbjerg 7, Schöne 6, Braithwaite 7, Eriksen 6, Poulsen 7, Jorgensen 6. Subs: Gytkjaer 6, Lerager 7, Cornelius 6.
42 - CHANCE! Poulsen wins a free kick around 35 yards from goal after being brought down by Long. Eriksen lines it up...and his attempt dips just over the bar! That's the best chance of a goal we've had in this half...
90 - CHANCE! Lerager lays off a pass to Gytkjaer on the edge of the six-yard box, but his shot ripples the side netting! Plenty in the stadium thought that was in!
Ireland have failed to score in their last four outings - their longest barren streak since 1996.
Ireland have managed one win in their last 11 games - a friendly victory over the USA in June.
Denmark have kept a clean sheet at home for the sixth consecutive match.