Euro 2020: England break Danish hearts to reach final
England will face Italy in the final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday
Harry Kane’s extra-time goal gave England a 2-1 win over a shattered Denmark on Wednesday and took them through to the Euro 2020 final against Italy, their first major tournament final since the 1966 World Cup.
Kane scored the follow-up after Kasper Schmeichel had saved his controversial penalty in the 104th minute in front of almost 65,000 fans at Wembley.
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Mikkel Damsgaard had given the Danes a 30th-minute lead with a terrific free-kick but an own goal from Simon Kjaer brought England level before half-time, and their knackered opponents gradually faded as a force.
Defeat ends Denmark’s fairytale run to the semifinals, the furthest they have been at a tournament since winning Euro 92.
The Danes’ tournament began in nearly-tragic circumstances when star midfielder Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest in their opening game against Finland.
Kasper Hjulmand’s men have since ridden an emotional wave and played plenty of slick football in sticking four goals past Russia and Wales on their way to the semifinals.
However, England’s huge advantage in having six of their seven matches on home soil has paid off as they were the physically fresher side in the latter stages.
Roared on by the deafening noise created by the biggest crowd for an England game in nearly two years, the hosts came flying out of the traps.
Kane’s teasing cross just evaded Raheem Sterling as he burst in towards the far post.
Involved in the first goal, scored the all important second and made England history in the process. Harry Kane = Star of the Match— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 7, 2021
Did you predict that?@Heineken | #EUROSOTM | #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/PmELCi8pFA
Denmark settled after a shaky start and started to pose a threat themselves as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg shot straight at Jordan Pickford before Martin Braithwaite and Damsgaard saw efforts fly off target.
England were on a national record run of seven consecutive clean sheets, but were finally breached in spectacular fashion by Damsgaard’s free-kick that flew into the top corner.
Any questions over how Southgate’s men would react to falling behind for the first time in the tournament were emphatically answered as England rapidly hit back.
Absolutely brilliant result. Well done lads, very good performance, the country are immensely proud. The party atmosphere for the next few days is going to be insane!!!— michael owen (@themichaelowen) July 7, 2021
Sterling should have equalised when he fired straight into Schmeichel’s midriff with just the ‘keeper to beat.
Moments later, the hosts were level when Kane freed Bukayo Saka down the right and Kjaer turned into his own net under pressure from Sterling.
Denmark’s exertions in being forced into a 9,000-kilometre (5,592 mile) round trip for their quarterfinal win over the Czech Republic showed in the second half as they desperately tried to keep England at bay.
Schmeichel produced another stunning save from Harry Maguire’s header low to his right, while Kane could not get a telling connection in a goalmouth scramble in the 96th minute.
Hjulmand made all five of his allotted substitutions before the 90 minutes were up to give his side an extra boost of energy, but they could not get any forward momentum.
Schmeichel kept his side in the game in extra time with another agile low save to his right to deny Kane before repelling a Jack Grealish piledriver.
England’s pressure finally paid off in controversial circumstances when Sterling was awarded a soft penalty for a challenge by Joakim Maehle in the 104th minute.
Well played to the Denmark team. You gave it everything and more. Your country should be very proud of you.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 7, 2021
Schmeichel even denied Kane from the spot but the ball fell kindly for the England captain to sweep home his fourth goal of the tournament.
Southgate was the fall guy when England last made it to a Euro semifinal 25 years ago as he missed the decisive penalty in a shoot-out defeat to Germany.
But he has the ultimate shot at redemption come Sunday as England have the chance to finally bring a major trophy home after so many years of hurt.
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