It Might Be Coming Home
Reach out and touch it. History is made. England clawed their way into the final of the European championship for the first time. For the first time, Wembley will host the final game. The last time the host nation won the title was France in 1984. Take nothing away from Denmark. Their contribution to this competition has been immense. Beyond goals, they have shown character, spirit, and relentless poise. They have pushed every opposition they faced to the very limit. And even though it is time to say goodbye, they go out with grace and their wits intact. Safe to say Christian Eriksen will be a healthy, happy, and proud man.
England showed early on how much they wanted the final. They started on the front foot, piling the pressure on the Danish defense. The Danes showed their counter-attacking prowess. Denmark opened the scoring after half an hour. Mikkel Damsgaard who has had a competition to remember rifled a free-kick into the roof of the net in the 30th minute. For the first time in the competition, Jordan Pickford was beaten. Minutes after breaking Gordon Banks’ record for minutes without conceding for an English goalie. England 0-1 Denmark. The three lions remained undeterred.
Kasper Schmeichel came up big for Denmark as he denied Raheem Sterling from point-blank range. It would prove futile as the Three Lions drew level 48 seconds later. “We can stop him,” said a confident Andreas Christensen when asked about Harry Kane in the pre-match press conference. But from what he has shown this past season, Kane can be both a marksman and a playmaker. He showed his playmaking abilities when he played a slide-rule pass into the path of the electric Bukayo Saka. Saka found the incoming Raheem Sterling but team captain and veteran Simon Kjaer got there before him. Unfortunately, he turned the ball into his net. England 1-1 Denmark. The 11th own goal of Euro 2020. Denmark led for all of 9 minutes and England were back on level terms. Half-time England 1-1 Denmark.
The second half was just as eccentric as the first. England kept up the pressure. The Danes looked to catch them on the counter. Despite Gareth Southgate’s men dominating possession, it was very much an open game. Kasper Schmeichel was the busier of the goalkeepers. The Dane was again called into action as he clawed away a Harry Maguire header that was creeping into the back of the net. A super save from the veteran. Jack Grealish was introduced to the delight of the fans. But even he couldn’t find a way through the Danish resilience. The game ebbed towards extra time as neither side was able to find the all-important breakthrough.
England continued to dominate as Danish resilience was lowered by tired legs and minds. They say hard work pays off. It certainly did for England. Albeit fortuitously. After a mesmerizing run into the box, Raheem Sterling was brought down under very minimal contact by Joakim Mæhle. His reactions were enough to convince the referee Danny Makkelie and VAR. England were given a lifeline from 12 yards out. Kasper Schmeichel did his best to keep Denmark in the tie. He made stunning and important saves. And again he was the hero or so he thought. Having saved the initial penalty, Harry Kane would prove unstoppable as he slotted home the rebound. England completed the comeback. England 2-1 Denmark. It finished that way. England will face Italy in the final on Sunday at Wembley.