The spirit of 1992 is alive and well in Denmark. And, on Saturday, it carried out to Amsterdam where the Danes met Wales, a team whose morale had also peaked following their successful Euro 2020 group stage run.
In the end, the Danes controlled much of the game. Kasper Dolberg, making a return to the stadium where he first found success, delivered the goals he has otherwise failed to score recently. Two more goals in the final minutes made it official. Denmark are in the Quarter-Finals and their fairytale tournament continues.
There wasn’t an awful lot that manager Rob Page must have felt the need to change. Wales had performed well beyond expectations during their Euro 2020 group. Once again, he opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation. Gareth Bale started as a left-winger, while Aaron Ramsey operated in the central of the midfield.
Meanwhile, Kasper Hjulmand, the most popular figure in Denmark at the moment, bar Christian Eriksen, stuck to a 5-3-2. He was faced, however, with having to substitute Yussuf Poulsen, the RB Leipzig forward who had done so well in this tournament. In his place came Kasper Dolberg, a striker who’d had hardly scored during the past season. Once again, fortune would soon favor the Danes.
Wales sprinted straight out of the gates taking control of the game for the first 15-20 minutes. In the 10th minute, Bale made space for himself, took a shot from outside the penalty area, but the ball swayed just past Kasper Schmeichel’s goal. The Welsh’s dominance never extended past this quarter of the match.
In the 27th minute, Dolberg, seemingly energized by the familiar atmosphere found in Amsterdam, latched on to Joakim Maehle’s pass and curled in a great long-range effort.
The Danes continue to dominate and the intelligent runs made by Mikkel Damsgaard and Maehle on the left side often left the team’s attackers in good positions.
While it looked like the Welsh had returned with replenished vigor following their half-time talk, it was the Danes who scored once more. Dolberg’s continuous pressing paid off as he seized upon Neco Williams’s failed attempted to clear the ball properly.
Wales battled valiantly better never looked like getting back in the game. The North Europeans, on the other hand, took advantage of the space being given. Brentford’s Matthias Jensen hit the post in the 65th minute. Later, Martin Braithwaite failed to keep his shot down from a dangerous free-kick.
With the result all but in the bag, things quickly got worse for Wales. In the 88th minute, the exposed Welsh defense allowed Denmark to pass through the area before Joakim Maehle scored.
Next, Harry Wilson lost his head, dove into a challenge on Maehle, and was red-carded. Adding insult to injury, Martin Braithwaite finally found the goal he’d been chasing when his run ended with a fourth goal for Denmark.
Denmark celebrating a place in the last 16 with their fans after everything the team endured at this tournament.— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 22, 2021
Football ? pic.twitter.com/RucMpNoSWO
Denmark has rarely had a poor national team. In fact, in the Laudrup brothers and Peter Schmeichel, they had some of the greatest footballers of a generation. Their high-water mark remains the 1992 win in the Euro. Never since has the Danish team looked as good is does today. With their most important player, Christian Eriksen made unavailable, their victories are the result of an incredible national feeling of camaraderie.
Meanwhile, Wales deserves praise. The score tonight is harsh and doesn’t speak of the team’s fighting spirit and tremendous results in recent years. Regardless of the failure to qualify further, this a generation of players worth admiring.
Denmark are in the Quarter-Finals. If it all ends there, nobody in the Nothern country will complain. How far could they go through? Spurred on by the level of support that they’re enjoying, for a brief spell, the sky may be the limit.
June 26, 2021 – European Championship 2020 Round of 16
SCORERS: 26′ Dolberg; 47′ Dolberg, 88′ Maehle, 91′ Braithwaite
|WALES (4-2-3-1): Ward; C. Roberts (40′ N. Williams,), Mepham, Rodon, B. Davies; Allen, Morrell (58′ Wilson); Bale, Ramsey, James (77′ Brooks); Moore (77′ Roberts T.) (Hennessey, A. Davies, Gunter, Lockyer, J. Williams, Levitt, Cabango, Smith) Coach: Page|
|DENMARK (3-4-3): Schmeichel; Vestergaard, Christensen, Kjaer (75′ Andersen); Stryger Larsen (75′ Boilesen), Delaney (58′ Jensen), Hojbjerg, Maehle; Braithwaite, Dolberg (69′ Cornelius), Damsgaard (58′ Nørgaard). A disp. Lossl, Rønnow, Skov, Skov Olsen, Jørgensen, Wind, Christiansen) Coach: Hjulmand|
REFEREE: Siebert (Germany)
NOTES: Yellow Card: Rodon, Moore, Brooks (W); Red Card: Wilson (W)