Denmark hit Gibraltar for six as Eriksen delivers ahead of Dublin date
Denmark 6 Gibraltar 0
Denmark will hope that Christian Eriksen is getting his form back at just the right time for Monday's test in Dublin as he delivered for his country in their final home game of a difficult campaign which could still lead to Euro 2020 qualification at Ireland's expense.
For a long spell, this wasn't quite the Danish Dynamite of the great Denmark team of the 1980s but Age Hareide's side work up after a sluggish first half and did what they needed to do at home to Gibraltar, a 6-0 win, to tee up Monday's game in Dublin as the last stop, possibly, on the road to Euro 2020.
Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.
This Danish win, along with a nervy and narrow victory for Switzerland at home to Georgia, means that the Danes can qualify automatically for a tournament where they are among the co-hosts by avoiding defeat in Dublin on Monday.
And while it was a boost for Danish pride to see those goals go in at home to bottom side Gibraltar, in front of a crowd of 24,033 the 90-minute, two-goal contribution of Eriksen will be of more importance for their test in Dublin, the Spurs man getting some much-needed game time. And goals.
The night could have been even worse from an Irish perspective, as had Switzerland drawn at home to Georgia, then Ireland would have needed a 2-0 win, or better at home to Denmark on Monday to advance, but the Swiss win means that any win for Ireland will do.
Denmark boss Age Hareide had promised to rotate his squad, to keep key players fresh for Monday, but he ended up fielding a strong side. Eight of the XI which started in last month's win at home to Switzerland were in the team here, names like Kasper Schmeichel, Eriksen and Thomas Delaney not given the night off but asked to play instead.
A boggy pitch, plenty of brown patches visible, did not bode well for flowing football and it was a bit of a grind in the first half before the Danes profited from fatigue in the away side and showed their class in the second half.
They needed just 11 minutes to get the breakthrough, Hoffenheim player Robert Skov scoring from close range after keeper Kyle Goldwin had saved from Christian Gytkaer.
Gibraltar's resistance broken, that should have been the spark for Denmark to go on and put the game to bed but a lack of urgency crept into their game, Eriksen's free kick teed up a chance for Martin Braithwaite but the effort struck the crossbar while Gytkaer should have scored on 23 minutes when he had a one-on-one with the keeper but Goldwin saved.
Eriksen created another chance, for Daniel Wass, on 32 minutes but the final shot was well wide, the Danes unable to trouble the away side too much for the rest of the half.
A minute into the second half they had a second goal, a long ball over the top falling for Gytkaer and the Polish-based striker side-footed home for his fifth international goal.
On 51 minutes ex-Middlesbrough man Braithwaite made it 3-0 from close range after Gibraltar failed to clear an Eriksen cross and Skov claimed his second on 64 minutes.
And Eriksen popped up on 85 minutes, a classy finish for his 30th international goal, tome for another in added time as defender Joseph Chipolina gifted the ball to Eriksen in the box and he greedily slotted home.
DENMARK: Schmeichel; Wass, Jorgensen, Kjaer (cap), Larsen (Christensen 78); Schone (Hojberg 55), Delaney; Skov, Eriksen, Braithwaite (Dolerg 55); Gytkjaer.
GIBRALTAR: Goldwin; Sergeant, R Chipolina (cap), J Chipolina, Olivero; Mouehli (Barnett 66), Badr (Hernandez 66); Casciaro, Walker, Britto; De Barr (Styche 72).
REF: Istvan Vad (Hungary)
Who is your sportstar of the year?
Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.
Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.