England Reaches Euro 2020 Final After Beating Denmark
England defeated Denmark 2-1 in extra-time at Wembley to reach the European Championship final, setting up a mouth-watering Sunday showdown against favourites Italy.
Having swept past Ukraine 4-0 in the quarter-finals, England knew they faced a tougher opponent in Denmark. Harry Kane started upfront, supported by Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling on the flanks. The Danes had Kasper Dolby attack, with Martin Braithwaite and Mikel Damsgaard supporting.
England fell behind after 30 minutes thanks to a superb effort by Damsgaard. The winger fired a powerful, dipping 25-yard free kick over the wall and beyond the diving Jordan Pickford to give the Danes the lead.
England had reached the semi-finals without conceding a goal and the crowd were stunned. The question of how England would respond to its first real setback would now be addressed.
As England calmly grew into the game, Sterling was denied at point-blank range by goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. Moments later, the equaliser came when defender Simon Kjaer scored an own goal. After Saka latched onto a defence-splitting pass from Kane, the winger sent in a low cross to find Sterling. In Kjaer’s attempt to stop the ball reaching Sterling, the defender bundled the ball into his own net.
Schmeichel kept the Danes in the game with an excellent diving save to palm away a Harry Maguire header as England began to turn the screw in the second half. Despite their relentless passing and probing around the box, both sides struggled to carve out a clear opening and the referee blew the whistle after 90 minutes.
The extra 30 minutes became a virtual attack versus defence exercise, as Schmeichel saved again from Kane and Jack Grealish. Sterling was a constant threat for the Danes as he continued to drive into the box going past defenders.
Sterling was eventually brought down by Joakim Maehle in the box and a penalty was awarded. VAR confirmed the referee’s decision and Kane stepped up. The striker struck poorly and Schmeichel blocked, only for the captain to tuck home the rebound in the first half of extra time.
The goal was enough to send England through as the match ended 2-1 at Wembley. England set up a Sunday showdown against Italy, who will be seeking to win the title they last lifted in 1968.
It was a tough way for Denmark to end their emotional ride from the fear and distress of Christian Eriksen’s opening game collapse, to their first semi-final since their shock Euro 92 win.
It was of course a particularly special night for coach Gareth Southgate, whose penalty shoot-out miss sent England out of the semi-finals of Euro 96.
“When you’ve waited as long as we have to get through a semi-final, the players — considering the limited international experience some of them have — have done an incredible job,” Southgate said.
“We suffered in Moscow (in the 2018 World Cup semi-final defeat by Croatia) on a night like this and we’ve managed to put that right. It’s an incredible occasion to be a part of. The fans were incredible all night. There was mayhem on the pitch and I was part of it.”
“We’ve got to enjoy the fact we’re in the final but there’s one more massive hurdle to conquer.”