After delivering a disciplined display in Copenhagen, Ireland’s players are confident that their record of emerging victorious from must-win games can count against Denmark tomorrow night.
Martin O’Neill’s side have developed a knack for producing wins in high-pressure situations and unlike the qualifying campaign, when a score draw against one of their rivals might have been deemed satisfactory, the away goals rule means Ireland must go for a win.
That challenge could extend to extra-time if a similar cagey affair develops, adding extra importance to those penalty competitions frequently undertaken by the squad at the end of training sessions.
Ireland’s players were at one in predicting their destiny won’t be decided by that lottery once they adopt a more inventive approach on home soil.
Saturday’s first meeting won’t live long in the memory, especially the lack of chances conjured by Ireland, but within the context of the overall tie, having to win a home game to reach next year’s World Cup is well within their capabilities.
Both sets of players agreed that the Parken Stadium pitch wasn’t the best, which shouldn’t be an issue at Lansdowne Road. Ireland just have to make home advantage count.
“We’ve been in this situation and come out the other side happy,” said defender Shane Duffy. “It doesn’t matter how we get through as long as we do it. We’ve got to be confident heading into a one-off fixture. We’re the home team, our crowd will make lots of noise and we’ve got the players to make the difference.
“Denmark were very physical in their approach on Saturday so we probably shut each other out.
“It’s not an excuse but their pitch wasn’t great to play football on, you could see some of their technical players, even some of their best players, struggled to get going on it.
“The ball was bobbling all over the place but we got out of there was a clean sheet which was the main aim. It was a scruffy, ugly type of game and our pitch should be fine.”
It took a couple of saves from Darren Randolph to keep the Danes at bay. He did his job in turning Yussuf Poulsen’s late header over for a corner, albeit the Denmark sub admitted afterwards he should have aimed for the bottom corner with the effort.
“I think I got a bit of luck being in the right place at the right time,” said Randolph.
“I expect to be busy every game and Denmark had the majority of the possession. We managed to get a couple of chances ourselves but we have to be happy with this situation.
“It’s win or bust now in Dublin. We’re the home team and have to get a result but we’ve managed to do just that before.
“The main thing from Saturday was that we didn’t [leave] the play-off over after the first game. That’s three clean sheets in a row and we’ll be solid again on Tuesday, hoping to nick a goal.”
Should that not come to pass and penalties are required, Randolph will be prepared. He’s using the brief turnaround in games to research the likely takers in the Denmark team. The Wicklow man is even prepared to take a spot-kick himself.
“I haven’t been involved in a penalty shoot-out since I was 14 years old playing at the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland,” he revealed.
“Of course, we’ll be concentrating on the first 90 minutes and obviously if it goes to penalties, so be it.
“You’d be silly not to have a study of their penalty takers to have some sort of idea. I would do that normally before a match.
“The last one I saved was last season was West Ham against Bournemouth. I did save one from a teammate in training the other day — but I won’t name who missed!”
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