Denmark's Kasper Schmeichel critical of 'horrendous' home pitch after draw
COPENHAGEN -- Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel described the Parken Stadium pitch as "horrendous" after the Republic of Ireland secured a 0-0 draw in Saturday's World Cup playoff first leg.
Martin O'Neill's Ireland failed to score an away goal in a dour game but head into Tuesday's second leg in Dublin knowing a win will send them to next summer's World Cup in Russia after keeping the hosts at bay in Copenhagen.
And Leicester keeper Schmeichel admitted that the playing surface at the Parken did nothing to help the home side.
"It was an horrendous pitch, which was very disappointing," Schmeichel said. "There was no grass on it, it was soft, it took me back to the old days at Bury and in League Two.
"We wanted to play incisive football, so it made a bit of difference, but no excuse. They were very dogged."
The Irish have goalkeeper Darren Randolph to thank for their clean sheet and Schmeichel paid tribute to his opposite number following his performance.
"On reflection Darren Randolph made some great saves, so we are disappointed not to get to win," he said. "But it is not the end of the world, they did not get an away goal.
"We are happy they didn't nick anything on the break. But the visiting keeper getting man of the match tells its own story.
"He was commanding, made three or four good saves. All credit to him, I hope he doesn't do it again."
Ireland's Harry Arter was satisfied with draw, telling Sky Sports: "I think away from home a draw is seen as a positive result. In an ideal world, we could have done with scoring an away goal. But it is important not to go into the tie and lose it.
"We need to take the positives from that. Apart from the first 15 to 20 minutes, when they had a few good chances, I felt we kept them quiet.
"[The World Cup) feels a bit closer than before the game, the away game is always the tougher of the games."
O'Neill was pleased with his side's performance away from home and insists they will be raring to go on Tuesday night.
"I think it was a tough evening for us," O'Neill said. "But there is everything to play for on Tuesday now. We have to win the game. Denmark will feel they can score and it will be a long way back for us. But we are ready for the game."
Ireland will need to improve in the final third, though, according to O'Neill.
"They had one really great chance after Darren [Randolph] parried the shot from (Christian) Eriksen," he said. "We restricted them, but we need to be more creative ourselves."
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_
Information from Press Association was used in this report.