PLAYER RATINGS: Mostly 6's, a few 7's, two 5's... And a rare non-team related 8 and 10.
Hungover, tired, in an airport, but being kept alive by hope. The life of an Irish fan. Here's our quick take on individual performances last night.
Darron Randolph: 7. Two fantastic saves. But a very nervous parry-away from an Eriksen shot in first half that Sisto should have scored from. A huge let-off. Was Man of The Match for many, possibly a bit generous in our eyes.
Stephen Ward: 6. Was steady, but got caught out a few times from thousand angled balls Delaney and co shot his direction. Continues to communicate well with McClean.
Shane Duffy: 7. His type of game, but the Danish offered a much more competitiveness in the air than the Welsh. Got his head on everything that came his way, although, nearly always, his clearances landed at Danish players. The fact he was our main attacking threat speaks margins.
Ciaran Clark: 6. Captained the side. Himself and Duffy are forging a very solid partnership. Clark still prone to a few errors when ball is at his feet though – last night we saw that again, luckily Eriksen wasn’t at the races to capitalise on one particuar miss-pass. No near OG to report, always good.
Cyrus Christie: 6. Created our best chance of the game, single-handedly. Great show of ambition. Similarly to Ward though, he got caught out – particularly so early in the first half with a ball played in behind him. Led to a one on one that Randolph had to make two smart saves from.
James McClean: 7. Very good off the ball. And was probably the one who tried to encourage us most to do something when we had it. Didn’t stop running, as per, covered amazing amount of grass. Astonishingly, didn’t get booked.
Harry Arter: 6. Want to give him a 7 for his effort, and, it should be noted, effectiveness off the ball; broke up a lot of Danish play. Did very well majoritiy of the time on Eriksen (alongside Brady). But was generally woeful on the ball, which we don't feel is an injust criticism, considering his level.
Jeff Hendrick: 5. Hope he was injured. Another display where he found himself unable to have any impact in the game. Whether he push, or held, it always felt like he was drifting. Barely got on the ball when we had it. Worrying.
Robbie Brady: 6. Better than Hendrick, but another player who was largely on the fringes. Held good shape in defence though, particularly with Eriksen. His ambition with the ball slowly got better as the game progressed, but again, you’d expect more. Delivery from set pieces was poor, a growing trend in his game throughout the whole campaign – O’Dowda should have been allowed to take a few.
Callum O’Dowda: 6. Alongside McClean and Christie he was the player who wanted to take the Danish on most when in possession. A few very positive runs in second half - came to little - but a bit more experience and he’ll learn to be a bit more streetwise. Didn’t look out of place which is a phenomenal testament to his progression.
Daryl Murphy: 5. We felt it was the right call to play him over Long, but it didn’t work out for O’Neill at all. Has no legs to press, and against a player of Kjaer’s experience, he nearly lost all of his duels. To his credit, it was a very difficult role he was asked to play. Will almost certainly drop to bench for Tuesday’s decider.
Shane Long: 6. He may be short on confidence in front of goal, but the rest of his game is calm and measured. Won a few free kicks, and found good space on one particular occasion down the right channel. Followed that with a 30 yard attempt off his left foot, which doesn’t suggest the tortured mental struggle the media want you to believe.
Hourihane & Whelan not on long enough to rate.
Manager. 6: We’ve said it before, and will no doubt say it again. It wasn’t pretty, you’d like to have seen us be a bit more ambitious when on the ball, but flying back from Copenhagen today it’s hard not to feel a draw is a positive result. Hugely bold call to pick O’Dowda in midfield at the expense of Whelan. Didn’t pay huge dividends, but O’Neill clearly learned from the Georgian debacle last time Arter and Whelan played together. Murphy, in hindsight, was probably the wrong call. But we too felt he should start so can’t knock O’Neill that much for it. 90 minutes now in Dublin to go for a win against a side whose wind looked to slowly get knocked from their sails as the game progressed. We’re certain O’Neill will take that.
Referee: 8. Don’t normally comment on referee’s but felt that it’s only fair here. First 20 minutes he was waved everything off on both sides, which played into the hands of the Danish who wanted a fast, uninterupted, start. But he maintained control throughout, and considering there were 20 players on yellow cards going into this game, he did phenomenally well not to hand out any more. The second leg will benefit greatly because of it. On another day Delaney, Poulsen, Arter, and McClean would almost certainly be missing the return leg.
Richard Keogh. 10. Spent the game in amongst the Irish fans with his bird. Fair play to him. Seriously tight jeans.