Revenge is a dish best served cold. Well, at least we had the cold, a chilling reminder that Ireland aren’t very good and that this competition has done little to capture the imagination.
Martin O’Neill had spoken on the eve of the game of righting the wrongs of the 5-1 defeat inflicted here by Denmark during November’s World Cup playoff.
But all this soulless statement proved was that Christian Eriksen – hat-trick hero that night but missing here because of injury – really is the difference between two ordinary sides.
Republic of Ireland’s James McClean is involved in a contretemps with Matthias Jorgensen of Denmark
Ireland midfielder Harry Arter competes for the ball with Dnemark’s Martin Braithwaite in a tough game
Arter reacted well to clear the ball off the line as he prevented Simon Kjaer from giving Denmark the lead
Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane, who previously had a disagreement with Arter, assesses the scene before the game
Ireland (3-5-1-1): Randolph 6; Keogh 6, Duffy 6, K Long 6; Doherty 5.5, Christie 6.5, Arter 6.5 (Robinson 65, 6), O’Dowda 5 (Stevens 46, 5), McClean 6; Hendrick 5; S Long 6 (O’Brien 83)
Bookings: Arter, Christie, McClean, Duffy
Manager: Martin O’Neill 5
Denmark (4-4-2): Schmeichel 6; Dalsgaard 6.5, Kyler 6.5, Jorgenson 6, Styger Larsen 6; Brathwaite 5.5, Schone 6, Delaney 6.5, Sisto 6; Dolberg 6 (Christensen 79), Poulsen 6.5
Manager: Aage Hareide 5
Ref: J Estrada (Spa) 7
It used to be the case that these autumn evenings were the setting for proper qualifiers, not this. Dublin’s first taste of the Nations League was sour and this draw leaves Ireland in danger of slipping into League C come the next renewal of a tournament which was supposed to do away with meaningless friendlies. Sadly, this does not feel like much of an upgrade.
O’Neill said: ‘The team looked solid, it’s kind of a rebuilding process after the (4-1) defeat against Wales last month.’
It says something of Ireland’s lack of inspiration that they had to bend the rules to create their best chance. Harry Arter – restored to the side following his fallout with assistant Roy Keane – was down in need of treatment when Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney gestured that he was about to kick the ball out of play early in the first half. It was a clear signal.
Obvious, that is, to all except Jeff Hendrick, who duly robbed his opponent and scampered through on goal.
Hendrick, though, was more bungling burglar than master criminal and he missed the target with just Kasper Schmeichel to beat. Denmark’s players raced to remonstrate and the Burnley man pleaded his innocence. What he was guilty of most, however, was a glaring miss.
Had he scored perhaps Ireland would have been shamed into allowing Denmark to walk through and roll in an immediate equaliser, which is kind of what they did anyway on five occasions back in November.
Denmark’s Lasse Schone seeks to retain possession as Callum O’Dowda slides in for Ireland in Dublin
Denmark’s Kjaer battles for possession with Ireland’s Shane Duffy during an intense contest
Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph is on the receiving end of a hefty challenge from Denmark’s Thomas Delaney
Randolph is checked on by referee Srdjan Jovanovic as he lies on the ground following the challenge from Delaney
Arter battles for possession with Denmark attacker Kasper Dolberg during the Nations League clash
O’Dowda seeks to push forwards for Ireland during the game at the Aviva Stadium as he is challenged by Lasse Schone
Denmark’s Youssef Poulsen looks to get his side on the attack as Arter strives arduously to close him down
O’Neill said: ‘Jeff was totally unaware that Harry was down, but had he scored we may well have had to let them score.’
Hendrick reverted to more sporting means when his flighted free-kick presented Shane Duffy with a chance just before the break but the defender headed wide.
And so half-time arrived with neither side having registered a shot on target. Yes, the Nations League really does bring out the best in teams.
Denmark belatedly found the goal just before the hour but Arter was minding the post and hacked Simon Kjaer’s header from the line. At least that sparked a little excitement among a crowd who had moments earlier resorted to whistling their discontent.
Poulsen vies for possession with Shane Duffy (left) and Richard Keogh (right) during the clash
Burnley midfielder Jeff Hendrick goes for goal as Ireland attempt to break the deadlock against Denmark
Ireland defender Cyrus Christie has to be alert as the dangerous Pione Sisto attempts to make an impact for Denmark
Ireland decided to give this attacking lark a go themselves and Cyrus Christie was unlucky when his 20-yard blast was shovelled around the post by Schmeichel.
Denmark, though, always looked the more likely scorers, especially on the break, and Middlesbrough forward Martin Braithwaite was denied a late winner when his low strike was saved at the foot of the post by club-mate Randolph.
And that was that, a game to rival England’s goalless draw in Croatia as the worst of the weekend. Ah, the Nations League.
Randolph reacts quickly to save a shot from Denmark’s Mathias Jorgensen as the visitors piled on the pressure
Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel made an impressive stop to prevent Christie from putting Ireland ahead
McClean seeks to get forwards down the wing for Ireland but finds himself being tracked by Denmark’s Lasse Schone
Andreas Christensen, who entered the fray as a substitute, competes for the ball in the air with Ireland’s Shane Long
Martin O’Neill watched his side battle to a draw against Denmark in a rather uneventful Nations League game
Denmark boss Age Hareide saw his side dominate proceedings but they were unable to take all three points