Soccer: Hat-trick hero Eriksen books Denmark's World Cup spot
By Philip O'Connor
(Reuters) - Denmark's hat-trick hero Christian Eriksen said his performance in their 5-1 demolition of Ireland on Tuesday would be life-changing after they booked a ticket to next year's World Cup.
The midfield maestro, who had missed a couple of decent chances in the goalless playoff first leg, made no mistake in the Dublin return as his treble put the Irish to the sword.
"It's incredible to take your country to the World Cup with three goals in a playoff," said 25-year-old Eriksen. "It's going to mean a lot throughout my career, throughout my whole life, really. It's a big thing and I'm very happy about it."
The Danes also benefitted from an Andreas Christensen goal, that cancelled out Shane Duffy's early header for Ireland, and a late Nicklas Bendtner penalty but Eriksen stole the show.
"We cannot ignore that Eriksen delivered an incredible performance and probably played his best international game, in my opinion," Bendtner told reporters.
Despite the plaudits of his team mates and his central role in the victory, Eriksen was his usual humble self.
"It's a crazy feeling, we've been fighting together for so long since the qualification started," he said.
The Danes did not panic when Duffy scored and a short corner saw Pione Sisto beat Harry Arter before flashing the ball across the box where Christensen's shot was deflected into the net by Ireland's Cyrus Christie just before the half-hour mark.
"After scoring one goal it was a big knock for Ireland, we got a lot of confidence and started to play good football," said Eriksen, who plays for Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.
He added Denmark's second soon after and put the game out of Ireland's reach just past the hour before completing his treble.
Eriksen, who has scored 21 times in 75 internationals, said there were more goals to come from Denmark in Russia.
"We'll take this with us and try to score as many goals as possible at the World Cup as well," said the midfielder, who doused former international defender Lars Jacobsen, who was broadcasting for Danish TV, with champagne as he celebrated.
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; editing by Ken Ferris)