Finland Beat Denmark as Christian Eriksen Survives Collapse Scare

The good news, the only one that matters, is that Christian Eriksen is alive.

Never ever would have we expected to open a football piece with such a statement. And yet, there were moments of panic at the Telia Parken in Copenhagen on Saturday afternoon as the Denmark midfielder suddenly collapsed to the ground while facing Finland in their Euro 2020 debut.

Eriksen laid on the ground, motionless, for several minutes, as the medical staff performed a CPR and his teammates watched in tears and formed a shield around him to protect his privacy. The Inter midfielder was intubated and carried off on a stretcher.   

Nobody knew what was going on as the match was obviously called off on 43 minutes. For long, endless minutes, a thick sense of anguish permeated the stadium as everybody feared for the worst.

Then, the first good piece of news: A picture started to circulate, showing Eriksen awake with a hand on his forehead as he was carried away. The first official updates, provided by his agent and then by the Danish Football Federation and the UEFA, reported that he had been stabilized in a hospital and was undergoing additional tests. His life was not in danger.    

The match could resume, with both sides reportedly agreeing to continue. But what happened on the pitch, with Finland catching a 1-0 historical win in their European Championship debut, mattered very little by then. The Finnish fans will forgive us, but the decision to restart the game was a questionable one in our view.

Denmark agreed to play after Eriksen himself talked to his teammates via phone to reassure them about his conditions. Yet, regardless of the teams and players’ will, we believe calling the game off for the day would have been a wiser option. Too much had happened in the past few hours and likely too distressed were the players to keep the show going with their mind clear.

Indeed, there was a before and an after in the game at the Telia Parken. Before the Eriksen incident, Denmark were dominating the match, offering the opposition goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky more than a chance to shine but failing to find the back of the net.

After a two-hour break, all that didn’t matter anymore. The Danes were arguably shell shocked and their attitude on the pitch changed.

On 66 minutes, Finland’s Joel Pohjanpalo was left completely free to head home a cross from the left-hand side. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel seemed to be on it but somehow clumsily pushed the ball into his own net, allowing Finland their first, historical Euro goal.

Schmeichel had appeared one of the most active in the frantic minutes following Eriksen’s collapse, consoling and supporting, together with captain Simon Kjaer, the midfielder’s wife who had run onto the pitch.      

On 73 minutes, Denmark had a chance to equalize as Yussuf Poulsen was pushed down in the box, but Pierre-Emile Hojgbjerg’s sloppy conversion attempt was saved – more because of his own fault than of Hradecky’s ability. Another sign that perhaps the Danes were not in an ideal mindset.

Credit must be given where it is due, and Finland surely pulled off a brilliant feat by catching all the three points on offer at their very first try – after going through the same terrible moments experienced by the Danes. For the record, they were the first team to win a major international game by shooting only once in 90 minutes since 1980.

Still, many were left with the awkward feeling of having witnessed a surreal match – one that could have maybe been rescheduled to tomorrow, allowing the players to have a good night of sleep and to digest the events of today.            

But if that was the price to pay to have Christian Eriksen back after those terrible minutes that made the whole football world fear for his life, we will gladly take that. And we will call it a day with that picture that gave everybody a hope in mind. The one showing the Inter midfielder dazed and confused – but beautifully alive – as he was carried to the hospital.   



June 12, 2021 – European Championship 2020 Group B

SCORERS: 61′ Pohjanpalo

DENMARK (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Maehle, Christensen, Kjaer (63′ Vestergaard), Wass (76′  Stryger-Larsen); Hojbjerg, Delaney (76′ Cornelius); Braithwaite, Eriksen (45′ Jensen), Poulsen; Wind (63′ Skov Olsen) (Nørgaard, Rönnow, Andersen, Lössl, Dolberg, Damsgaard, Boilesen) Coach: Hjulmand
FINLAND (4-4-2): Hradecky; Raitala, Toivio, Arajuuri, O’Shaughnessy, Uronen; Sparv (76′ Schuller), Lod, Kamara; Pukki (76′ Kauko), Pohjanpalo (84′ Forss) (Jaakkola, Jensen, Joronen, Lappalainen, Väisänen, Hämäläinen, Soiri, Taylor, Ivanov) Coach: Kanerva

REFEREE: Taylor (England)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Lod, Sparv (F); Extra Time: 1st Half 0′, 2nd Half 4′