Wednesday 21 February 2018

O'Neill's game plan just perfect for us - Denmark manager

Denmark manager Age Hareide is hoisted by his squad after their win at the Aviva Stadium.
Denmark manager Age Hareide is hoisted by his squad after their win at the Aviva Stadium.

Colin Young

Denmark manager Age Hareide couldn't believe that Christian Eriksen was given the freedom of Dublin to mastermind Ireland's destruction at the Aviva Stadium.

"It is difficult to rank players but we saw when Tottenham played Real Madrid that Christian is probably one of the best players in his position at the moment.

"He has the capability of scoring goals, making assists, finding space.

"He is in a team at Tottenham who want to play football which suits him. He has good players to play with, he has a good manager and I think he is enjoying his time there at the moment."

Hareide, a former team-mate of Martin O'Neill's at Norwich City, acknowledged that Ireland's change of tactics had assisted his team - and Eriksen in particular.

He added: "It is difficult play at Lansdowne. Ireland don't concede many goals, but we kept faith in our way of playing and, with a better surface, we knew we could play in between them.

"Ireland made it easier by playing with two strikers and a diamond which left a lot of space for Christian.

"You like to have star players who make difference and he showed that. The whole team did well and we now we are going to Russia. That was the goal and I am very pleased.

"We knew Ireland would play differently, but if you lose 5-1 you are not successful."

As for the man himself, Eriksen said: "It is a crazy feeling right now. We have been fighting together for so long and played 12 games together and now that it has happened it is a weird feeling.

"I think we will improve and, compared to the first game last Saturday, we improved a lot.

"Of course, Ireland let us play a bit more which we did, which is why we were so dangerous on the ball. We will try to score as many as possible in the World Cup finals as well.

"The feeling was we could come back but we knew it would be very difficult coming here because of the fans who are incredible.

"We got a lucky goal and then it was just one-way. That gave us confidence and we started to play proper football and created some wonderful chances.

"Belief is very important in football and the lads stuck at it.Once we turned it round we knew we could win but it is a weird feeling to know we are going to the World Cup finals.

"It's not often I score a hat-trick, so of course it's incredible and taking your country to the World Cup with three goals away and winning the play-off, it's going to mean a lot for my whole career, for my whole life really. It's a big thing and I'm very, very happy about it."

Eriksen, who will now turn his thoughts to Saturday's match against Arsenal, believes his confidence at this level comes from Hareide's appointment a little over 18 months ago.

"I think mentally I've grown up and taken a more clinical shot instead of the passing and a bit more thinking like a striker - getting my own shots out.

"The change of manager and how we play has meant a lot for my position and how we keep me in the game, keep me involved."

Irish Independent

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