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Published: 23:35 | 14/11/17

Schmeichel knew Denmark wouldn't panic

Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was delighted by his side's response to going 1-0 down to Ireland in Tuesday's World Cup play-off second leg in Dublin.

After Saturday's first-leg goalless draw in Copenhagen, Denmark came from behind to thrash Ireland 5-1 in the second leg at the Aviva Stadium and book their place in next summer's World Cup finals in Russia in some style.

Ireland took the lead through Shane Duffy's fifth-minute header, but Age Hareide's side roared back with two goals in three first-half minutes from a Cyrus Christie own goal and a stunning Christian Eriksen strike.

Tottenham playmaker Eriksen then turned on the style in the second half with two more fine finishes to complete a hat-trick, and substitute Nicklas Bentdner wrapped up the scoring in injury-time from the penalty spot. 

And Schmeichel says he was always confident Denmark would prevail despite going 1-0 down so early in the second leg.

"There was a long, long way to go," the Leicester City goalkeeper told RTE.

"All we needed was one goal. Ireland were still under pressure so for us it was still a case of not panicking, and we had that feeling we could create chances. 

"We created chances at home and didn't put them away."

Schmeichel says he feels thankful he plays in the same team as Eriksen, who made it 11 goals from 12 World Cup qualifiers with his hat-trick against Martin O'Neill's side.

"There are no literally no words to describe how happy I am he is Danish," the 31-year-old added. 

"He is one of the best players in the world but take that aside, as a guy and a person in the dressing-room, he is a guy who can take the hopes of the nation on his shoulders and do magic with it. 

"He has done it again tonight and it's not for the first time."

But Schmeichel says Russia 2018 will be a poorer place without the Ireland fans, who backed their side with a rousing chorus of "The Fields of Athenry" after going 4-1 down.

"I can only have admiration for the Irish as a nation," he said.

"When the fourth goal went in and the Irish fans started singing Fields of Athenry, it gave me goosebumps."

"I remember sitting in Poland in 2012 watching the Spain game when they were 4-0 down as well. It gave me goosebumps as well. 

"I'm obviously delighted for Denmark but I'm gutted for the Irish. They are amazing fans and great people. 

"But for us it has been a long time coming, and tonight we showed what a good team we are."

Image: Inpho/ Ryan Byrne

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