Wednesday 23 October 2019

Dalsgaard vows to improve against Irish after Swiss slow burner

Henrik Dalsgaard (left) celebrates scoring Denmark’s equalising goal with team-mate Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images
Henrik Dalsgaard (left) celebrates scoring Denmark’s equalising goal with team-mate Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images

John Fallon

On top of his perfect start to the Euro qualifying campaign, Mick McCarthy can take heart from the flurry of goals conceded by his two main rivals.

The Group D meeting of Switzerland and Denmark on Tuesday began as a slow burner only to scorch into a thrilling climax.

It seemed the natural order of seeding was unfurling at the St Jakob Park when a dominant Swiss side grabbed a 1-0 interval lead, enhanced by two more goals in the second half.

Back came the Danes to preserve their 26-match unbeaten run by prodding three goals past Yann Sommer in the final nine minutes to eke out a 3-3 draw.

A point for each nation but to McCarthy a godsend so early in the campaign. Now it is imperative they back up the routine stuff of beating Gibraltar and Georgia by claiming something off the Danish next time out on June 7.

Age Hareide's team, having played only the one game, will be gunning for their first win of the campaign but so too will the Irish, according to Henrik Dalsgaard.

At 29, he had to wait a long time his first international goal yet it will be remembered as the precious stoppage-time header that saved them in Basel.

More excitement is in store in the meeting with the Irish, although he hopes it won't be the kind to embarrass his defence once again.

"We didn't play well against Switzerland and I know we will be ready from the start against Ireland," vowed the Brentford defender.

"As players, we had a major discussion at half-time and despite conceding twice more, we always felt capable of getting something from the tie. We did the same in the friendly against Kosovo last week, coming back to draw 2-2.

"Many teams would give up when three goals behind but we have winners in the dressing-room.

"Our team are determined to qualify for another major tournament after reaching the knockout stages of the World Cup last summer.

"The visit of Ireland is a huge game for us, not just because they have five more points, but we want to put the Switzerland performance behind us."

Dalsgaard shared his jaundiced view of Ireland held by team-mate Thomas Delaney - that of "primitive" tactics - based on their four-match series between November 2017 and 2018.

Yet, despite being left frustrated by three of those matches finishing scoreless, the full-back reckons McCarthy will curtail the boredom.

He was impressed by the Ireland manager's mindset when they encountered each other on the Championship beat.

Defensive

"Ireland could not get any more defensive than they were under O'Neill," he sighed about McCarthy's predecessor.

"I believe Mick McCarthy will allow his team attack more. His teams at Ipswich were always solid yet I think he'll bring another expression to the game. It will be completely different to the previous matches."

Inflicting a defeat on the Danes will also be entirely different. Dalsgaard's deft header extended their unbeaten run in open play to 26 matches, dating back to October 2016.

Hareide is of the view his team will only improve, given the settled team they've developed during their ascent.

"I would say Denmark are on a wave," he declared.

"Our team selection is very consistent and that can be seen by our record. We only had one different starter against Switzerland to the team which lost on penalties to Croatia in the last-16 of the World Cup last summer.

"As we saw against Switzerland, this team does not know when they are beaten."

Irish Independent

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