Republic of Ireland can beat anyone in Euro 2020 play-offs, claims confident McCarthy

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Despite missing out on automatic qualification, Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy remains convinced they can reach Euro 2020.
Despite missing out on automatic qualification, Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy remains convinced they can reach Euro 2020.

Mick McCarthy remains confident his Republic of Ireland squad can book a place at Euro 2020 despite missing out on automatic qualification.

Ireland were held to a 1-1 draw in Monday's must-win qualifier against Denmark at the Aviva Stadium to finish third in Group D, three points behind their opponents.

Matt Doherty headed home five minutes from time to cancel out Martin Braithwaite's 73rd-minute opener, but McCarthy's men must settle for a play-off spot.

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A one-legged semi-final and final will be played in March and McCarthy believes his side are in with a shot, provided they replicate their performance against Denmark.

"We can beat anyone in the play-offs," he told Sky Sports. 

"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."

Ireland lost only one of their eight qualifiers - a 2-0 reverse to Switzerland last month - and McCarthy was full of praise for his players after the draw with the Danes in Dublin.

"I am immensely proud of them," he said. "They pushed Denmark right to the limit. If my players and my team leave everything on the pitch, I will take the result as it comes so I will have to take this.

"You just need that bit of luck. We had opportunities but I am not going to criticise the lads because they've been brilliant. We lost one game out of eight so I'm very proud of them."

Denmark are now unbeaten in 17 qualifying matches since October 2016 and can look forward to next year's tournament, having failed to qualify last time around.

Age Hareide's men managed just two attempts on target against Ireland, however, and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel admitted his side were "terrible".

"It was dramatic enough," he told Sky Sports. "There wasn't a lot of quality from both sides - it was a cagey and tight affair.

"We were terrible. We didn't hit anything we tried to today and we had to rely on our grit and determination. We needed it today as we were under a lot of pressure."

Denmark have faced Ireland six times since 2017 and have not lost any of those meetings, but Schmeichel feels the hosts are improving.

"This is the best Ireland have been against us," Schmeichel added. "We had to ride our luck at times, but you need that when you're fighting for qualification."

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