Free Press Journal

Denmark, Ireland share spoils


Callum O'Dowda (C) of Ireland vies against Thomas Delaney (R) of Denmark during the play-off FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match of Denmark vs the Republic of Ireland on November 11, 2017 at the Telia Parken stadium in Copenhagen. / AFP PHOTO / SCANPIX DENMARK / Lars MOELLER

Copenhagen : Denmark on its home turf failed to overcome Irish defenders with a bumbling performance in a game without brilliance in which the visitors got the result they wanted — playing the second-leg of the 2018 World Cup qualifying Round 2 back home in Dublin.

The game didn’t stick to the script: Ireland fell back to its own territory and set up a tough defence against the Danes’ attacks, closing spaces, defending the 0-0 tie like a treasure and waiting to see what moves Denmark would make, since the latter maintained almost full possession of the ball.

Denmark manager Hareide repeated the attack strategy that had thrashed Poland, with Cornelius placed to make the most of his physical superiority but without much luck.  The Irish weren’t impressed and knew how to isolate Eriksen, the Danes’ brain and the team’s top scorer.

But there was too much in the way of direct attacks and the Danes lacked the patience to outmanoeuvre an Irish team without an excess of talent but very disciplined and determined.

Even so, Denmark had three very clear chances in the first half but was unable to convert any of them.

Things got no better for Denmark in the second half. Added to the difficulties of breaking through the rival defense were errors brought on by too much hurrying and a lack of ideas. Only Eriksen and Sisto came close to structuring scoring plays, but luck was not with them.

For the Danes the game went from bad to worse and Ireland looked quite comfortable, though without shining much on the attack.

Even bringing on Bendtner, the Danes’ most trusted scorer over the past decade, could not prove to be a game-changer. Denmark was a study in impotence and the game ended in a goalless tie.

In another match, Tunisia has officially taken a ticket to the football World Cup Russia 2018 after a 0-0 draw against Libya on the last day of the African qualifying rounds.

Tunisia went one point ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in group A by 14 points against 13 points on Saturday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Tunisian coach Nabil Maaloul told Xinhua after the match: “We are qualified and we will be in Russia.” He thanked his players for “having done their best”.

This will be Tunisia’s fifth World Cup since 1978. In another development, celebrations turned violent in central Brussels, minutes after the qualification of the Moroccan national football team for the next World Cup, police told Belga news agency.

Riot police were sent out to control a crowd of about 300 people, at one point firing water canon at revelers. At least one car was burned during the incidents, police said.

Videos posted on social media showed tense scenes as riot police tried to block off streets to the fans as other fans chanted joyfully from the steps of the Bourse stock exchange building, a usual spot sports celebration.

Morocco defeated Ivory Coast 2-0 last night in Abidjan to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, the country’s first appearance at the finals since 1998.

Brussels has a big Moroccan population, many living in the nearby Molenbeek district, which came to international prominence as the home and hideout of planners of the terror attacks in Paris in 2015 and in Brussels last year.