Paris: Denmark and Switzerland secured spots at Euro 2020 at the expense of the Republic of Ireland on Monday as Roberto Mancini’s Italy completed a perfect qualifying campaign by scoring nine.
Ireland needed to beat Denmark in Dublin to clinch qualification for next year’s 24-team European Championship finals, but Matt Doherty’s late header was only enough to earn Mick McCarthy’s men a 1-1 draw at the Aviva Stadium.
A closely-fought contest, low on technical quality, swung the visitors’ way when the unmarked Martin Braithwaite stuck out a boot to divert a Henrik Dalsgaard cross into the net on 73 minutes.
However, Ireland scored a late equaliser to draw 1-1 in Copenhagen in June and they repeated the feat here as Wolverhampton Wanderers right-back Doherty headed in an Enda Stevens cross with five minutes left.Needing to win, the home side then threw everything at their opponents in the dying moments, but Denmark held on to clinch second place in Group D behind Switzerland.
The Danes, European champions in 1992, can now look forward to playing at home during the finals, with Copenhagen one of the 12 host cities chosen for the tournament.
Switzerland secured top spot with a 6-1 away win against minnows Gibraltar as Cedric Itten scored twice.
Italy had already wrapped up qualification from Group J but they saved their best for last, making it 10 wins from 10 by hammering Armenia 9-1 in Palermo with seven different scorers. Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile and Nicolo Zaniolo both scored braces, while Nicolo Barella and Alessio Romagnoli found the net before Chelsea midfielder Jorginho converted a penalty.
Riccardo Orsolini came off the bench to score on his Italy debut and Federico Chiesa finished off the scoring after Edgar Babayan had pulled one back for Armenia. It was an 11th straight win in all for Mancini’s side, with Italy scoring nine times in a game for the first time since beating the USA 9-0 at the London Olympics in 1948.
“We had the right approach to the game and you don’t score nine goals by chance,” Mancini purred. “We need to improve various aspects of the game but for me it will be really difficult to leave some people at home when I select the squad for the finals. They would all deserve to be there.”