Eriksen ends Republic of Ireland World Cup hopes

Written By: BBC/Hunja Macharia
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The Republic of Ireland failed to reach the World Cup as Christian Eriksen’s hat-trick gave Denmark an emphatic victory in the play-off to reach Russia 2018.

After a goalless first leg, the hosts made the perfect start by scoring after just six minutes as defender Shane Duffy nodded in his second international goal when the visitors failed to clear a free-kick.

But the Danes netted twice in the space of three first-half minutes, courtesy of Cyrus Christie’s own goal and Eriksen’s stunning strike.

That left the Republic – who could have gone further ahead after taking the lead, but saw striker Daryl Murphy flick an effort into the side netting and winger James McClean drive wide following a slick team move – needing to score twice more to qualify.

But in the second half Tottenham midfielder Eriksen curled in from the edge of the box and then thumped in from inside the area to secure his treble and seal the tie.

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Former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner came on with six minutes to go and slotted a late penalty after he was brought down as Denmark, who failed to qualify for Brazil 2014, booked their trip to Russia next year.

Hat-trick scorer Eriksen said: “It’s an incredible feeling. We’ve been fighting for so long to get to the World Cup. We are very much looking forward to it. It’s not often I score any hat-trick so of course it is incredible.

“I know how nervous I was all day and night. We got the ball, we played better than the first game.”

Martin O’Neill’s Ireland side had lost just one of their previous 11 competitive games at home and they were heading to a World Cup for the first time since 2002 when Brighton’s Duffy nipped in ahead of Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel for the opener.

Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero was taken to hospital after fainting in the dressing room at half-time in Argentina’s 4-2 defeat by Nigeria in Krasnodar, Russia.

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The Manchester City striker had scored to put his side 2-0 up in the first half, but Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi found the net twice as Nigeria came back.

The Argentina FA said the 29-year-old had been taken to hospital to “carry out routine studies as a precaution”.

They later confirmed that Aguero had been discharged from hospital.

“He is already in the hotel along with the rest of the team,” they tweeted.

After the match Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli said Aguero had “got dizzy and had to leave”.

In a statement City said he had been cleared by doctors to return to Manchester as planned “after suffering a dizzy spell” during the match.

“Sergio never lost consciousness, and was taken to hospital for precautionary medical checks,” the club said. “He will be assessed by the club’s medical team ahead of this weekend’s Premier League trip to Leicester City.”

Aguero, who became City’s all-time leading goalscorer earlier this month, had recently returned to action after he suffered a rib injury in a car crash in Amsterdam in September. He was injured when a taxi he was travelling in after attending a concert crashed into a lamp post.

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