Mick McCarthy says Republic of Ireland 'can beat anyone in the play-offs' after missing out on automatic qualification for Euro 2020
Switzerland and Denmark secure places at European Championship at Ireland's expense
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 goals against a hapless Armenia.
Ireland needed to beat Denmark in Dublin to clinch automatic qualification for next year's 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 swung the visitors' way when Martin Braithwaite stuck out a boot to divert a Henrik Dalsgaard cross into the net on 73 minutes.
However, Ireland who drew 1-1 with the Danes in Copenhagen in June, repeated the feat on home soil as Wolverhampton Wanderers right-back Doherty headed in an Enda Stevens cross with five minutes remaining.
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"We had opportunities but I am not going to criticise the lads," McCarthy told Sky Sports.
"They have been brilliant. We lost one game out of eight. I am very proud of them. We can beat anyone in the play-offs.
"The players will go back to their clubs and we don't have a game until March. I'll be getting round them and reminding them it has been a good campaign and that we can play like that, so why not play like that in March?"
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. Captain and Arsenal outcast Granit Xhaka netted their final goal.
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 players on the scoresheet.
Lazio's Ciro Immobile, who leads the scoring charts in Serie A, scored twice as did Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo, 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, son of former Parma, Lazio and Italy striker Enrico, 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 said.
"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."
Having wrapped up a historic first qualification for a major tournament three days earlier, Finland lost 2-1 to Greece in Athens despite Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki giving them a first-half lead with his 10th goal in eight internationals.
Bosnia and Herzegovina finish fourth in the group despite a 3-0 win in Liechtenstein, but they will have another chance to qualify via the play-offs next March.
Group F winners Spain rounded out their qualifying campaign with a 5-0 victory over Romania at a half-full Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.
Gerard Moreno scored twice after Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz opened the scoring. Adrian Rus put through his own net in first-half stoppage time and Real Sociedad striker Mikel Oyarzabal wrapped up the win amid reports the match was to Robert Moreno's last game in charge.
Having already qualified as runners-up in the same group, Sweden defeated the Faroe Islands 3-0, while Norway, who go into the play-offs, won 2-1 in Malta.
Updated: November 19, 2019 10:58 AM