CHRISTIAN Eriksen's magnificent hat-trick inspired Denmark to a 5-1 demolition of the Republic of Ireland in the second leg of their playoff in Dublin, to clinch a spot at next year's World Cup.
Following Sunday's stalemate in Copenhagen, Ireland got their home leg off to the perfect start when Shane Duffy headed them into the lead after only six minutes, but Denmark struck twice before the break and three more in the second half to seal their place in Russia.
The equaliser arrived in fortuitous circumstances on 29 minutes, when Cyrus Christie helped bundle in Andreas Christensen's effort, but there was nothing lucky about Eriksen's thunderbolt for the second, or the second-half brace that completed his hat-trick.
Nicklas Bendtner, on as a late substitute, completed the rout in the final minute with a penalty after a clumsy trip on him by James McClean, extending Ireland's wait for a first World Cup appearance since 2002. Denmark will make its fifth World Cup appearance and first since 2010.
Ireland coach Martin O'Neill, who had already agreed a new contract to lead Ireland into the qualifiers for the 2020 European Championship, will ship criticism for again selecting his team without the craft of Wes Hoolahan.
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