World Cup play-off: 'Denmark deserved it' says Martin O'Neill
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has admitted his side were well beaten after a humiliating 5-1 defeat to Denmark ended their bid for a first World Cup appearance in 16 years.
After a goalless first-leg, Christian Eriksen's hat-trick sealed an emphatic win for the Danes in Dublin.
"We were well beaten in the end. The two goals we conceded within a couple of minutes knocked us," O'Neill said.
"We had to chase the game and Denmark took advantage. They deserved it."
"We had two great chances to make it 2-0," O'Neill added.
"We needed either of those to go in to get a real foothold in the game. That didn't happen and Denmark were clinical."
The former Sunderland and Celtic manager says he plans to speak with the Football Association of Ireland about his future in the coming weeks, having already agreed in principle to remain in charge for the Euro2020 qualifying campaign.
O'Neill also admitted his defence had been left unprotected after the half-time substitutions of midfielders David Meyler and Harry Arter, who were replaced by the more attack-minded duo of Aiden McGeady and Wes Hoolahan.
"That's the name of the game, we have to go for it. There is no point in dying wondering. We had to get two goals back," he said.
Denmark manager Age Hareide paid tribute to the patience shown by his players after they were frustrated by a well-organised Irish side during the first-leg in Copenhagen.
"We didn't get stressed. We tried to play and we got the goals and we got the openings that we didn't get at Parken (Stadium)," Hareide said.
"Ireland made it easier for us and Eriksen by playing a diamond, so I just want to say 'thank you' (to Ireland) very much for the space because they locked us down in the first-leg."
Hat-trick hero Christian Eriksen showed why he had been highlighted as Denmark's key player in the build-up to the play-off with a superb performance.
"It's an incredible feeling after fight so long to get there," the Tottenham star said.
"It's not often that I score any hat-trick. To score three goals to lead your country to a World Cup will be one of the best things of my life."
'We let ourselves down'
A clearly distraught James McClean, who had a chance to double Ireland's lead during the opening 24 minutes, found it difficult to come to terms with the defeat.
"I don't know what to say," the West Brom winger said.
"We shot ourselves...we got a great start and then...I don't know what to say. I'm just devastated and not just for us but for everyone. It's been a long campaign and we just let ourselves down.
"Maybe so (Ireland needed more than team spirit to win against Denmark). I don't know, maybe it was the occasion, I don't know. They were just better. I don't know what to say to you...I'm just devastated."