Denmark and Switzerland are the latest to book their berths for the next year’s European Championships ahead of Ireland who will now hope qualify through playoffs.
Needing to win against Denmark in Dublin on Monday, Ireland were left to chase after Martin Braithwaite put the visitors ahead by 1-0 in the 73rd minute. Ireland found the equaliser late in the match when Doherty headed in a cross five minutes ahead of the full-time.
Ireland threw the kitchen sink in search for the winner but Denmark denied them, finishing second in Group D behind Switzerland to qualify. “We were terrible, we just couldn’t get going… But I don’t really care right now,” Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel said. “It means the world because we’re a very small nation and the chance of us playing home games in a major tournament are so small. To be able to give our fans that kind of experience is amazing, it’s unique,” he told Sky Sports.
Switzerland didn’t have to drop a sweat in their final qualifying match as they thrashed minnows Gibraltar 6-1 to secure the stop standing. Cedric Itten struck twice with Switzerland needing at least a draw to progress but they finished in style taking their group tally to 17 points, one better than Denmark.
Italy, who had already qualified, continued their dream run with an 11th straight win. For the firs tome since 1948, Italy pumped in nine goals in a lopsided 9-1 thrashing of Armenia. “We had the right approach to the game and you don’t score nine goals by chance. 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,” Italy manager Roberto Mancini said.
Group F toppers Spain also finished their qualifying campaign in style beating Romania 5-0 at Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid. Sweden got the better of Faroe Islands 3-0 while Norway, whose qualification hopes now rest on the play-offs in March next year, beat Malta 2-1.