'Probably one of the best players in his position' - Hareide hails match winner EriksenWed, Nov 15 2017
Denmark manager Age Hareide believes Ireland's tactics of playing a diamond made it easier for his side on Tuesday night as they convincingly beat the Boys in Green 5-1 at the Aviva Stadium to make next summer’s World Cup.
After the 0-0 draw last Saturday, Hareide had spoken about his team focussing in the second leg on passing at high speed, taking the game to Ireland and trying to find space for Christian Eriksen to exploit.
That is exactly what his team did and, on a perfect pitch for passing unlike Saturday’s turf in the Telia Parken stadium, Denmark destroyed Ireland's World Cup dreams.
Shane Duffy had given Ireland an early lead but goals from Andreas Christensen and Nicklas Bendtner either side of a superbly taken Christian Eriksen hat-trick saw the Danes reach Russia 2018.
“(It is) difficult to play at Lansdowne,” said Hareide in the post-match press conference. ”We kept faith in our way of training. We knew that with a better surface to play on we could play in between them.
“I think Ireland made it a little bit easier for us. They played in a diamond with two strikers, that left a lot of space for Christian (Eriksen).”
Hareide heaped praised on the star Spurs player who stole the show with a stunning hat-trick on the night – making it 11 goals for Eriksen across the 12 games in qualifying for Russia.
“A lot of teams who succeed and go to the World Cup have star players and players who make the difference and Christian showed that today. The whole team played well and scored a lot of goals.
“Christian Eriksen is absolutely in the top ten (players in the world). It is hard to rank but we saw against Real Madrid (in the Champions League for Tottenham) that he is probably one of the best players in his position at the moment.
“Ronaldo, Messi and some strikers play as forwards. Christian is a more of a wide man or a central player. He has this capability of scoring goals, making assists, finding space, definitely in the top ten.
“He’s in a team now, Tottenham, that want to play football. It suits him, with good players to play with and he has a good manager. I think he’s enjoying his time at Tottenham at the moment.”
It is more than 12 months since Denmark were last beaten – when they were defeated by Poland and Montenegro in October last year - but since then the team have shown real progress; enough to deservedly earn themselves the last European berth at the World Cup.
“Russia was the goal - the aim before I started as coach with Denmark. I’m very pleased for the players who have been fantastic through the campaign.
“We had a little bit of problem at the beginning but now we’ve played since October 2016 and have no defeats. I think the team have got stronger and stronger. I’m looking forward to the World Cup.”