England reached its first men’s major tournament final since winning the World Cup in 1966 after beating Denmark 2-1 at Euro 2020 in a gripping encounter on Wednesday at Wembley stadium.England’s forward Harry Kane (C) celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final football match between England and Denmark at Wembley Stadium in London
Gareth Southgate’s team had to come from behind to win and, as the match went into extra-time, a contentious penalty decided the match.
Raheem Sterling went down in the box under pressure from a melee of Denmark players and, after referee Danny Makkelie awarded the penalty, the decision was confirmed by VAR.
To add to the drama, Harry Kane’s spotkick was saved by Kasper Schmeichel but the England striker pounced to score from the rebound.
Simon Kjaer’s own goal had canceled out Mikkel Damsgaard’s wonderful free-kick in the first half in a game that saw Denmark produce another gutsy performance that has typified their tournament, following Christain Eriksen’s collapse in the team’s opening match.Mikkel Damsgaard gave his side the lead with a wonderful freekick.
For England, the tie bore similarities to its last semifinal at a European Championship, against Germany in 1996. That too was played in front of a packed Wembley Stadium but the tie ended in very different circumstances. Southgate was the man to miss the decisive penalty that night but, fast forward 25 years, and the 50-year-old has guided his country into its first European Championship final.
“I’m so proud of the players,” Southgate told the UEFA website. “It was an incredible occasion to be a part of. The fans were incredible all night.” England will now face Italy in the final after the Azzurri beat Spain on penalties Tuesday. Whilst the Italian side has looked imperious during Euro 2020, England will hope the home support at Wembley can inspire it to a historic victory on Sunday.England equalised after Simon Kjaer turned the ball into his own net.
The UK government allowed 60,000 fans to pack into Wembley Stadium for the semifinals, and those lucky enough to get their hands on tickets for Wednesday’s match experienced an atmosphere like no other.
If fans of the Denmark team were in the minority, they certainly made their presence noticeable, with one end of the stadium littered with Danish flags. A wall of noise and a sense of nervousness and anticipation greeted as the players made their way out of the tunnel. After being locked down amid Covid-19 restrictions, it felt like one huge outpouring of emotion, reverberating through Wembley.
For Denmark, which won Euro 92, this has been an extraordinary tournament. The team, and nation, was shaken when its talisman Eriksen collapsed on the field during its opening group game against Finland.
The power, strength and resilience shown by the Danish players as Eriksen recovered will inevitably go on to define this tournament and both teams paid tribute to the playmaker before the semifinal. England captain Kane presented Denmark with an Eriksen shirt signed by all the players ahead of kick-off, a gesture applauded by both sets of fans.
Then Southgate’s side went about the task of trying to make history. The country felt like it needed, almost expected, a win on Wednesday after so many years of disappointment and it finally got its wish.
Italy awaits and is likely to present England with it sternest test yet at Euro 2020. “We know it’s going to be a very tough game against Italy,” Kane told the UEFA website. “We’ve had a great tournament so far. One more game to go at home, and we can’t wait.”