Ireland's Randolph has big hand in tense tie

COPENHAGEN • Ireland coach Martin O'Neill singled out Darren Randolph for praise after his goalkeeper's starring role in their 0-0 draw in the first leg of their World Cup playoff in Denmark.

The two sides head to Dublin with the tie delicately poised after a tense 90 minutes of few clear-cut chances - the best of those falling to Denmark, who found Randolph in top form.

The custodian made three fine saves on Saturday to thwart the Danes, who found the target five times from 14 shots.

"Darren Randolph is a very fine goalkeeper," O'Neill told a media conference at the Parken Stadium.

"I thought he made an excellent save, and the one he tipped over the bar. I think that's the way he has played for us in this campaign."

There was little skill but plenty of heart on show as the two sides struggled for supremacy on a bumpy pitch. "I thought tonight was just a real physical battle, and it was tough going, but we have just got to win the game now on Tuesday night," O'Neill added.

"I think it's very evenly poised. (Denmark coach Age Hareide) thinks that they are capable of scoring at the Aviva, I wouldn't doubt that. We have to score goals to win the game."

Hareide said his charges deserved to be heading to Dublin in the driving seat.

"We created the chances good enough and big enough to score - it's not often Ireland give away such open chances as they did here," he told reporters.

The Irish did little to try to get an away goal, but that did not surprise Hareide, who is still wary of their goal threat.

"They have the strength in the defence, and also, it's very hard, as a small mistake can give Ireland a goal," said the Norwegian. "They're strong on set-pieces, long throws, corners, free kicks. They kick the ball into the box - it's difficult to handle, and they are good at that."

The highlights of the clash could probably be condensed into just a couple of minutes but this Irish team will enter their nation's football's history books they qualify for their first World Cup since 2002.

Randolph, for one, will definitely be talked about if he replicates Saturday's performance tomorrow.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2017, with the headline 'Ireland's Randolph has big hand in tense tie'. Subscribe