Shane Long came off the bench for Ireland on 71 minutes, but it was too late as they fell to a painful 5-1 defeat to Denmark in their World Cup play-off.
Martin O’Neill’s men got off to a dream start in front of an Aviva Stadium at fever pitch when Robbie Brady’s deep free-kick saw Nicolai Jorgensen inadvertently flick the ball up, and Shane Duffy headed beyond Kasper Schmeichel.
But the lead only lasted until the 29th minute, when Andreas Christensen’s effort bobbled over the line off Cyrus Christie after superb work from Pione Sisto down the left.
Things went from bad to worse a few minutes later when a counter-attack saw Christian Eriksen show his class, firing an unstoppable effort off the underside of the bar.
Ireland made a double change at the break, introducing Aiden McGeady and Wes Hoolahan to the action knowing they needed at least two more goals to qualify for the finals in Russia.
The Danish dominance showed little signs of relenting though, and Eriksen doubled his personal tally for the evening when he collected Sisto’s pass, before driving at goal and curling an inch-perfect effort beyond the grasp of Darren Randolph.
And a fine hat-trick was completed when he pounced upon Stephen Ward’s poor clearance saw the ball break into space for the Tottenham man to hammer the ball into the top-right corner.
Long had a chance to reduce the arrears with ten minutes to go, before Nicklas Bendtner sealed things with a late penalty.