England 2, Denmark 1 (AET, Euro 2020 Semi Final)
Harry Kane scored in Extra Time to book England their first place in a major final since lifting the World Cup in 1966.Embed from Getty Images
Gareth Southgate’s men had to do it the hard way as Kane scored off the rebound after his penalty was saved by Kasper Schmeichel who had denied Kane and Raheem Sterling several times throughout this tense semi final.
It was a big blow for the exhausted Danes who had taken a 30th minute lead from a fabulous direct free kick by Mikkel Damsgaard – the first of Euro 2020 – to end a run of 691 minutes without conceding for England.
The scores were level 9 minutes later when Simon Kjaer put through his own net under immense pressure from Sterling whose speed seems to sap the stamina from the Danes.
Kane had a second half spot kick turned down by referee Danny Makkelie but he had a second chance in Extra Time when Sterling won a marginal penalty – Wembley fell silent before the dramatic goal went in and the exhausted Danes could not respond.
And for once, after England had lost in six of their last seven games that had gone to extra time, they earned their slice of luck after enduring the longest gap between finals for any European nation in the history of the the World Cup and European Championships.
Sterling was proud of the performance and England’s first final for 55 years.
He said: “It was a top performance, we had to dig deep – it’s the first time we conceded in their tournament – but we had good team spirit to come back.
“We had to stay patient and we knew we had the legs to break them down and we got the penalty in the end.
Sterling was in no doubt about the validity of the spot kick which seemed soft.
He said: “He stuck his leg out – it was a clear pen.”
And he was unconcerned about Harry Kane’s nerves on missing the initial spot kick, declaring: “As long as it goes in the back of the net I’ll take that all day.
“We’ll celebrate a bit and then focus on Italy.”
England captain Harry Kane was relieved that luck was on England’s side on the night but reiterated that the job wasn’t done.
He said: “For once it fell our way today.
“Credit to the boys – what a performance after going 1-0 down.
“We dug deep, went to extra time and got the penalty.
“It wasn’t the penalty I meant to execute but I was happy to put it away.
“It’s one of the proudest moments in my life but we haven’t won it yet – we have one more to go.”
England boss Gareth Southgate had already started to bring his players down to Earth – with a final to come on Sunday.
“I’m so proud of the players and the fans were amazing all night.
“We knew we would have to come back from some setbacks and it happened tonight.
On Harry Kane’s penalty miss and quick redemption, he said: “There’s nobody I’d rather have on that penalty but he was up against a good goalkeeper [in Kasper Schmeichel].
“I felt we would get there to the final, Denmark are such an underrated team.
“Considering the limited international experience some of the players have they did an incredible job.
He added: “We have had three memorable games on the bounce now.
“The young ones think it’s always like this, I had to tell [Bukayo] Saka and [Jude] Bellingham it’s not always like this.
And on his plans for the forthcoming final, Southgate said: “The Italians had an extra day to recover but we will think about that on the way back to Burton.
“The important thing we gave the fans a fantastic night but there’s one more massive hurdle to conquer.
“Italy are a very good side, I have thought that for the last couple of years.”
Denmark take shock lead but England keep their cool and are behind for only 9 minutes
Bukayo Saka recovered from a slight knock to became England’s only change from the win over Germany – replacing Jadon Sancho – as they faced an unchanged Denmark.
And Harry Kane’s early cross was just in front of Raheem Sterling who couldn’t reach the ball after 6 minutes of positive play by England.
There was an absorbing battle with Denmark up either flank.
Joakim Maehle battled with Walker down the England right flank and Walker also took care of Mikkel Damsgaard as both England central defenders were dragged out of position early on.
On the other flank Sterling was finding space and moving the Danish defenders around.
He aimed a tame shot straight at Kasper Schmeichel after a brief period of England pressure and also created space to allow Kane a wild shot which was wayward.
Mistakes by Kalvin Phillips and Jordan Pickford went unpunished and the Danes surged and tried to pack the penalty area to confuse the England ‘keeper on the resulting corner.
Damsgaard curled a shot well wide as the Danes pressed England effectively, forcing them to go long and disrupt their own build up.
He had another chance minutes later when Denmark won a free kick 25 yards out when Luke Shaw committed a foul on Andreas Christensen.
Damsgaard made no mistake after half an hour with his looping set piece which arrowed into the top of the net – the first direct free kick to be scored in the tournament.
Raheem Sterling struck the Denmark wall as England won a free kick of their own but could not breach the tall visitors’ defence.
The Danes could have scored a second while England were still regrouping – Sterling was denied again the Kane laid on another great chance for the Manchester City winger only for Schmeichel to parry it away.
But there was no time to dwell on it as 48 seconds later Saka raced into box area from the right flank and squared the ball towards Sterling only for Simon Kjaer to stab the cutback into his own net.
It was the first own goal in England’s favour in European Championship history and only their third overall after own goals by Czechoslovakia and Paraguay in the 1982 and 2006 World Cups.
Harry Maguire was booked for a foul an elbow on Kjaer as he went up for an England corner soon after the restart.
Pickford needed to be at his best after going down quick to party away a shot by Maehle who was offside in the build-up.
Pickford also punched away a cross by Martin Braithwaite as Denmark once again started to look dangerous after the break.
Maguire’s header from Mason Mount’s free kick almost crept in at the back post but for another intervention by Schmeichel whose fingertips prevented England from taking the lead in the 56th minute.
Once again Denmark started building towards something and Pickford had to get down to save from Kasper Dolberg but Luke Shaw’s cross was almost put into his own net by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg as the game became more tactical.
England kept probing for space and Mount’s tame shot was easy for Schmeichel to collect but the Danes were starting to flag and Christensen went down needing treatment.
The Danes eventually made a triple substitution Jens Stryger Larsen, Damsgaard, and Dolberg were withdrawn for Daniel Wass, Yussuf Poulsen, and Christian Norgaard.
England responded by bringing on Jack Grealish for Saka to a roar of anticipation from Wembley as the England wide-men swapped sides.
And within minutes of coming on Grealish drew a foul from Wass and got the Danish substitute a yellow card.
Schmeichel had to tip away a deflected Mount cross which was looping in and from the corner Sterling had a shot blocked.
Harry Kane penalty drama
Kane went down in the area shortly after that his claims were waved away by the referee who had his decision vindicated by VAR.
The tension was rising as the minutes drained away, as Christensen had to go off after stretching to intercept a ball forward Harry Maguire.
That was the end of his night and Joakim Andersen replaced him.
Philips shot wide after Grealish and Shaw caused problems down the England left flank and despite some attempts to build up by the Danes England had better chances and refused to go out of shape to give the Danes an opening.
They did win a corner in the last 3 minutes though, and Mathias Jensen came on for Thomas Delaney for the last 2 minutes – their fifth sub.
By now the Danes were exhausted and barely keeping England out, but Phillips blazed over as gaps started emerging with England picking holes in added time and Maguire’s header jumped on by Schmeichel.
Schmeichel saved from Kane in added time and Phil Foden and Jordan Henderson were brought on for Declan Rice and Mount as the pressure continued to build against the Danes.
Stones’ header from Foden’s corner was cleared off the line while Sterling blazed over as the new subs injected some impetus.
They were finally rewarded for their patience when Sterling drew a foul from Maehle after dancing into the area – VAR did not intervene even though the contact looked minimal.
Kane stepped up and saw his spot kick saved low to the right by Schmeichel but the rebound fell kindly for the England captain who tucked the loose ball into the unguarded net.
It was Kane’s 10th goal in major tournaments – level with Gary Lineker – and his 38th goal in all.
Southgate showed his ruthless side as Keiran Trippier was brought on for Grealish in the second period of Extra Time to add defensive solidity.
The young midfielder had only been on the pitch for 36 minutes but as the Danes had already made their final substitution – to bring on a striker for a defender in Jonas Wind for Jannik Vestergaard – Southgate reacted quickly.
The Danes had no energy left to resist England and went down to ten men for the last period after they could no longer make any substitutions due to injury.
Henderson had a penalty claim turned down and Denmark won a late corner from a close shot by Braithwaite as they desperately tried to find an equaliser – and Schmeichel had to save again from Sterling as England finished strongly.
GOALS – England 2, Denmark 1 (AET, Euro 2020 Semi Final)
England 0, Denmark 1: 30. Mikkel Damsgaard broke the deadlock with an excellent free kick from 25 yards which looped up and down but also beyond Jordan Pickford’s grasp.
England 1, Denmark 1: 39. Simon Kjaer put though his own net while trying to cut out Bukayo Saka’s cutback to Raheem Sterling from the right side.
England 2, Denmark 1: 104. Harry Kane tucked home the rebound after his penalty was saved by Kasper Schmeichel.
MATCH STATS – England 2, Denmark 1 (AET, Euro 2020 Semi Final)
England: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Phillips, Rice (Henderson 96), Saka (Grealish 68, Trippier 106), Mount (Foden 96), Sterling, Kane
England subs not used: Ramsdale, Johnstone, Mings, Coady, Sancho, James, Bellingham
Booking: Maguire (foul on Simon Kjaer 49)
Goals: Kjaer og 39; Kane 104
Denmark: Schmeichel, Christensen (Andersen 79), Kjaer, Vestergaard (Wind 105+1), Stryger Larsen (Wass 67), Højbjerg, Delaney (Jensen 88), Maehle, Braithwaite, Dolberg (Norgaard 67), Damsgaard (Poulsen 67)
Denmark subs not used: Lossl, Ronnow, Skov Olsen, M Jorgensen, Cornelius
Booked: Wass 72 (foul on Jack Grealish)
Goal: Damsgaard 30
Referee: Danny Makkelie