Kane’s extra time winner crushes Denmark and takes England to the finals after 55 years of glory

July 8, 2021

Tournament football is like the devil. It is cruel. It is treacherous. It tests the team like no other. It pushes the entire unit to break all the boundaries and stand tall in the face of adversity. But the most important thing that you need to make this devil’s side with you is luck and a strong reserve bench. Gareth Southgate had all that in his pocket this time as England knocked out Denmark from the semis and reached the final of UEFA EURO 2020 first time in their history and after 55 years since their World Cup win when the Queen had shaken Bobby Moore’s hand to congratulate him and his team which did their nation proud.

Denmark had shattered glass ceilings all over the place last night at Wembley. With 60,000 English fans singing “It’s Coming Home”, those 8,000 Danes stood right behind their team as the 12th men and sang praises for their motherland with their voices out. Kasper Schmeichel would have had enjoyed it more than anyone as all the Danish supporters gathered at the back of his net and helped him to keep his morale high. If you have been lucky enough to watch Kasper’s father Peter Schmeichel play, you would have understood that this guy’s heroic display mirrored to that of his father during his glorious days as he had fought real hard to restore the golden year of 1992 for the Danish. To be completely fair, the Danish backline had been a treat to watch as they blocked every possible English attack and made sure they make life difficult for England until the very end.

Kasper Schmeichel after the match

According to statistics, goalkeepers can correctly predict only 41 percent of all shots in a situation of a penalty kick and only 14.5 percent of these shots can be saved. Well, Kasper Schmeichel did not even take half a minute to respond to Harry Kane’s penalty as he had managed to punch it away but he could not do enough as he put the ball in the path of the English skipper. Kane lifted the rebound in the opposite corner out of Schmeichel’s reach at the 104th minute of the extra time and Wembley erupted with 60,000 English fans jumping out of their seats cheering in celebration. The scoreboard glowed with the result 2-1 and Prince William gave a standing ovation in appreciation and applauded the players.

Kane’s strike
The celebrations continued as Wembley erupted with joy

The events that led up to that penalty kick which had proved to be decisive for Denmark seemed a bit bleak for me as the Dutch referee Danny Makkelie pointed straight to the penalty spot when Raheem Sterling had been challenged inside the box with minimal contact by Maehle and there was a controversy that another ball was present in the field of play when this incident happened. The VAR had checked the clip and stuck with the verdict of the on-field referee.

The former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had something interesting to say about it-

“No penalty. I don’t understand why in situations like that the VAR, the referee doesn’t go and look on the screen. In a moment like that, he has to be absolutely sure.”

The Danish coach Kasper Hijulmand also showed his resentment towards the penalty decision during the post-match press conference and said-

“It makes me angry that this is the way the game got decided. I have read the international press, the penalty should not have been given. We are very disappointed.”

Kasper Hijulmand in the post-match press conference

Nonetheless, England had got their match-winning goal and they held onto the lead as Gareth Southgate made an important change in the last 15 minutes of the extra time as he brought on Kieran Trippier to replace Jack Grealish and changed their formation from 4-3-3 to 3-4-3 as Trippier provided a fresh leg in the defense line as well as in the attacking third. The Danes did not give in that quick as they continued to keep the Three Lion’s under immense pressure and were stout in their attack but with one man down at 105th minute to injury and having no replacement left they eventually succumbed to England’s ambitions. It had been hundred percent man-management master skills from Southgate.

The Three Lion had scratched the history right off and wrote their tale of hero’s and legends and climax and anti-climax with opponents brave and strong. It had been long road for them but they waited to bring “Football home” and the struggle was extraordinary. Gareth Southgate was fixated and reminded the critics that he had finally mastered the tricks and the mind games involved in the game and suddenly emerged as the ‘great nation’s wise uncle.’

Gareth Southgate celebrating

The Danes had charged with humanity and unity for their fallen colleague and friend Christian Eriksen as they drew the first blood into this highly tensed encounter when at the 30th minute Mason Mount had made a challenge on Dolsberg 22 meters outside the box, the 21-year-old Danish forward Mikkel Damsgaard sent in a curling strike way above the 4-men British wall and the ball sailed into the roof of the net. This was the first free-kick goal in this year’s EURO finals and that was an exquisitely brilliant delivery from the Sampdoria forward. It was an extremely valorous effort to have had scored against England at Wembley in front of those goal-thirsty howling English supporters.

Damsgaard’s free kick goal
The Danish strength and euphoria

There is another man who needs special mention and without him England’s campaign could not have completed a full circle. It is none other than Raheem Sterling. This man needs to take a bow. It’s strange to think how in some months the narrative changed for him. After a strong and bruised bubble-bound season for Manchester City, Raheem Sterling wore his country’s colors with pride as he stepped up to the occasion and emerged a hero. He charged on every single ball from the first whistle and caused a lot of menace for Vestergaard, Christensen, and Stryger at the back. The presence of his pace and attacking adroitness proved to be an advantage for the Three Lions.

Raheem Sterling after Kane’s strike

Harry Kane’s pinpointed pass had dissected the Danish backline which otherwise withstood valiantly in the face of the English attack as Bukayo Saka raced on to down the flank as the Arsenal midfielder’s cutback was meant for an unmarked Sterling in the middle of the area. But the ball hit the Danish skipper Kjaer first and it flew at the back of the net. Thus, England restored their parity at the 39th minute.

Simon Kjaer’s own goal
The equalizer celebration

On European nights like these, we tend to question the right and the wrong. Was the penalty decision made out of a fluke? Did Denmark not deserve another comeback? But some days it’s not about what’s fair, it is about the result and we know that it speaks for itself and England’s journey had been weary and dark but now as they found their light after such a long wait that this team deserves all our respect and admiration. As for Denmark, their fight and emotionally charged attitude motivated all the underdogs with their footballing acumen and their resurgent strength. England set their appointment with Italy at the Wembley on Sunday for the Final game of EURO 2020 where it will be decided that “Will it come Home or go to Rome?”

England’s team celebrating with the fans

Team News:

England: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Phillips; Sterling, Mount, Saka; Kane

Subs: Ramsdale, Johnstone, Grealish, Henderson, Rashford, Trippier, Mings, Coady, Sancho, Foden, James, Bellingham

Denmark: Schmeichel; Christensen, Kjaer, Vestergaard; Stryger, Hojbjerg, Delaney Maehle; Braithwaite, Dolberg, Damsgaard

Subs: Lössl, Ronnow, Andersen, Skov, Skov Olsen, Jorgensen, Norgaard, Wass, Wind, Poulsen, Cornelius, Jensen

Referee: D Makkelie (Ned)

Star of the Match: Harry Kane

Harry Kane with the Star of the Match award