LONDON — England needed extra effort to quell the gritty challenge from Denmark in the Euro 2020 semifinals to score a 2-1 extra-time victory after the teams had finished level 1-1 after 90 minutes of pulsating regulation action.
England rode their luck on a day when a resolute Kasper Schmeichel kept the Danes in the hunt with some glorious saves right through the match. But for him the England team would have run roughshod over the Denmark’s defense to run away with the match.
But that was not to be as the agile Dane showed opportune timing and moves to deny England as they strung waves of attacks. But a self-goal and a lucky rebound from a poorly taken penalty by Harry Kane settled the score.
England will be coming back to Wembley on Sunday to face Italy in the final of the European Championships. This will be their first final since 1966.
Though England made the early running, Denmark showed why they are a dangerous team by coming close on the counter attacks. And in one such move, Denmark went ahead in the 30th minute. A sensational strike left Wembley stunned.
Mikkel Damsgaard opened the scoring with an incredible pile-driver of a free kick. He steps up to take the shot and it’s almost Ronaldo-like in the way he hits it. It goes over the wall with English keeper Pickford flying across to his right.
The ball starts about three yards over the bar but it comes back down and flies into the top corner! It’s the first goal direct from a free-kick in the tournament and what a time for Damsgaard to get it!
In the 38th minute England came close with Raheem Sterling, who relayed it to Kane, who in turn slides a wonderful ball in behind Vestergaard to Saka near the right byline. He takes his time with Sterling once again coming in at the back post but he’s not the man who gets there! Denmark skipper Kjaer comes sliding across and sticks it into the roof of his own net.
The own goal left the teams 1-1 at half-time as the teams proved they were evenly matched in the half. England starting the better of the two as they rode the emotion but Denmark grew into the game and really started to both quiet the crowd and get on top of the game.
The teams had their share of chances in the second half, but it was England who grew stronger as the clock ran down. Sterling was coming into his own with some superb singular runs down the flanks and was cohesively stringing moves that looked threatening.
Schmeichel repeatedly thwarted a host of English players as their shots at goal foundered at the keeper’s hands or body. The brave effort pushed the Danes to the extra time, and it was in this period England emerged the stronger.
With Sterling proving a veritable thorn in the Denmark’s flesh, it was a matter of time the Danes conceded a goal. A superb jink by Sterling caught the Danes napping. He burst past Maehle into the box and drives to the byline. He goes over under the challenge of Maehle and Jensen and the referee points to the spot. The Danish players a fuming as there looked to be minimal contact.
Kane strode up to the penalty and hit it down to the right. Schmeichel guesses right and palms it away but can only divert it back into the danger area with Kane on-hand to shoot the rebound into the empty net.
England then played some brilliant possession football as they kept the ball away from the Danes with some intricate passing and some swift attacks. But as the clock ran down, England kept control and the Danes let the ball and the match slip away.
England will be the clear favorites in London on Sunday as they clash with Italy in the final of the UEFA European Football Championship. The Italians beat Spain in a shootout on Tuesday after the match went into extra time.