England Edge Out Denmark in Extra Times to Land into Euro 2020 Final

And so, the Final of Euro 2020 will be England – Italy, a classic match-up that promises to entertain most football fans across the continent. 

The Three Lions reached Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri into the last act after defeating Denmark at Wembley thanks to a Harry Kane goal into the first extra time. The regular times ended 1-1, with Simon Kjaer’s own goal cancelling the lead propitiated by a brilliant Mikkel Damsgaard free kick.

The Danish fairy tale thus came to an end. The new story to be told is that of England boss Gareth Southgate, who cancelled his Euro Semi Final taboo 25 years after causing England’s exit from the home-hosted tournament with a missed penalty, back when he was a Three Lions midfielder.

England were playing with an impressive home advantage, something that Italy will also have to deal with on Sunday as the Final takes place in the English temple of football. The whole stadium chanting God Save the Queen was enough to get one a thrill. Denmark, on the other hand, played for Christian Eriksen and to take another step towards emulating their 1992 incredible exploit. 

The Nordics featured four Serie A players in their lineup: Milan’s stalwart Simon Kjaer in defense, midfielders Jens Stryger Larsen (Udinese) and Joakim Mahele (Atalanta), as well as Sampdoria sensation Mikkel Damsgaard on the front line. Their starting XI was the same that had dismantled Czech Republic in the Quarter Finals.

For England, Gareth Southgate made only one change compared to the Three Lions’ winning exploit against Ukraine as Bukayo Saka replaced Jadon Sancho.

The match had a slow start but became vibrant and entertaining minute by minute. It was England to have a better start. Harry Kane’s suggestion for Raheem Sterling was mouthwatering but a bit far for England’s top scorer to catch it. The Manchester City striker had a better chance to shot on 12 minutes but his conclusion came out weak and non-threatening to Kasper Schmeichel.

Denmark’s answer was in a nice one-touch action that put Damsgaard in condition to advance towards Jordan Pickford. However, the Blucerchiati starlet’s challenge was defused with experience by Kyle Walker.

But the best chance for the Danes was gift-wrapped by the English keeper with a suicidal throw-in that ended on Martin Braithwaite’s feet. Good for the English that the Barcelona backup didn’t quite take advantage of the opportunity – perhaps not even believing what was happening.

As the match unfolded, coach Kasper Hjulmand’s side seemed to gain confidence and hit the target on 30 minutes. Sampdoria will have a hard time in keeping Mikkel Damsgaard in their roster next season after the sensational free kick by which he drew his side ahead and placed himself high in many European top clubs’ radar.   

England’s reaction was furious and led to an equalizer in less than ten minutes. Sterling should have made it to the scorecard earlier but somehow managed to hit Schmeichel rather than finding the back of the net from point-blank range. But, just one minute later, the Man City striker had the merit of being in the right place to force Simon Kjaer into an own goal as he attempted to prevent Sterling from catching Bukayo Saka’s pass from the right side.  

It was a goal that shook up the Three Lions, who reversed the match trend and ended the first period in attack. The half time break came as a disappointment for Gareth Southgate’s side who seemed to have entered the zone.

When the two sides took the field again, Denmark were again in control and, on 52 minutes, Kasper Dolberg called Pickford to a super save to keep the score at 1-1. Schmeichel was not left without work either, as he had to fly to his right to palm away a Harry Maguire header that seemed destined to the bottom right corner of the net.

The game became rough and tough but Dutch referee Danny Makkelie mostly let the boys play and the match tempo was not affected.

On 66 minutes, Hjulmand came up with a triple substitution, adding Yussuf Poulsen, Daniel Wass, and Christian Norgaard. Among the sacrificed players, quite surprisingly, was goalscorer Damsgaard. Southgate immediately replied with Jack Grealish in place of Saka.

Harry Kane went for a dive into the Danish area but the VAR confirmed the referee’s decision not to go for a penalty. There were no additional scoring chances on either side as the match slowly headed towards extra times. But while Hjulmand made two more substitutions before full time, the English coach went into the extension with four changes still available.

That proved to be a decisive factor as, as soon as Southgate added fresh forces in the person of Jordan Henderson and Phil Foden, the Three Lions took command of the operations and Denmark ended up besieged into their own half.

On 103 minutes, the match decider: Sterling penetrated into Denmark’s area and Joakim Mahele naively pushed him down. This time, Makkelie pointed at the penalty spot with no hesitation and once again the VAR agreed with him.

England’s hopes were all on Harry Kane’s shoulders, but the captain risked to disappoint them as he saw his shot pushed back by Kasper Schmeichel. There was no Danish defender to clear the ball, however, and Kane got a quick chance to redeem himself as he tapped in the rebound to make it 2-1.

Denmark didn’t give up without a fight but despite their courageous attitude in the second extra time they could only manage to threaten Pickford once with a Braithwaite shot from outside the box. Schmeichel, on the other hand, pulled off another save for his nation’s pride preventing Sterling from adding a third goal.

Thus, it will be England to face Italy for the continental title on Sunday. Gareth Southgate’s selection never impressed too much along the Euro but will have the advantage of playing home, supported by a raucous crowd. For what concerns Denmark, they did even more that one could have expected after their shocking opening game and bowed out of a tournament they will surely never forget with their heads held high.



July 7, 2021 – European Championship 2020 Semi Finals
ENGLAND-DENMARK 2-1 after extra times

SCORERS: 30′ Damsgaard (D), 39′ Kjaer (D, o.g.), 104′ Kane (E)

ENGLAND (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Show; Phillips, Rice (94′ Henderson); Saka (68′ Grealish, 106′ Trippier), Mount (94′ Foden), Sterling; Kane (Johnstone, Ramsdale, Coady, James, Ming, Bellingham, Rashford, Sancho) Coach: Southgate
DENMARK (3-4-3): Schmeichel; Christensen (78′ Andersen), Kjaer, Vestergaard; Stryger Larsen (66′ Wass), Hojbjerg, Delaney (87′ Jensen), Mahele; Braithwaite, Dolberg (66′ Norgaard), Damsgaard (66′ Poulsen) (Ronnow, Lossl, Zanka, Wind, Skov Olsen, Cornelius, Skov) Coach: Hjulmand

REFEREE: Makkelie (Netherlands)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Maguire (E), Wass (D); Added Time: 1st Half 0′, 2nd Half 6′, Extra Time 1st Half 3′, Extra Time 2nd Half 1′