Given the Republic of Ireland's celebrations following their 1-0 win over Wales in Cardiff last month, you'd have been forgiven for thinking they'd qualified for next summer's World Cup.

As good a job as Martin O'Neill's side did on a Bale-less Wales on that night, and as much as they deserved to win, they'd only reached the playoffs. Denmark were pulled out of the hat as their opponents, and after a 0-0 draw in Copenhagen in the first leg at the weekend, things looked promising. Win, and they were there.

​​The Aviva Stadium came alive for the return as the hosts chased that elusive victory to take them to Russia on Tuesday, and Shane Duffy's early header sent the home crowd into dreamland. This was on. It was happening.

Step forward, Christian Eriksen.

The Tottenham star has been THE MAN for his country over the course of this campaign. He hit eight goals in the group stages to help Denmark into the playoffs, but really stepped it up a notch on this night to crush Irish dreams and send his country through as Europe's final qualifier.

Eriksen hit a beautiful hat-trick to kill Irish hopes - the three goals coming after Andreas Christensen's first half equaliser - as Denmark powered their way to an incredible 5-1 win in Dublin. The scorer of the fifth goal? The much maligned Nicklas Bendtner from the penalty spot.


Ireland will now need to regroup and try again for Euro 2020, with all but two of next summer's World Cup qualifiers now confirmed.

And no, a slightly bitter Welshman did not write this...