Denmark set up semi-final showdown after knocking out Czech Republic

Date published: Saturday 3rd July 2021 6:57 - Samuel Bannister

Kasper Dolberg Euro 2020 TEAMtalk

Denmark booked their place in the semi-finals of Euro 2020 after goals from Thomas Delaney and Kasper Dolberg saw off Czech Republic in a 2-1 win.

Either England or Ukraine will await the Danish team, who have been one of the stories of the tournament. After losing their first two group games, with Christian Eriksen collapsing in the first, they have made the most of their unified spirit to build momentum in the knockout rounds. Now, they are one step away from the final.

Denmark took less than five minutes to get the first goal of the match. Jens Stryger Larsen whipped in an outswinging corner, which Delaney rose to meet. The midfielder connected cleanly with his header to power the ball past Tomas Vaclik.

Their opponents may have felt aggrieved, as it looked like the corner should never have been awarded. However, VAR is unable to overturn decisions from previous passages of play. Thus, the awarding of the corner fell outside its remit and the goal stood regardless.

Trying to strike back, Czech Republic had their first decent chance when Patrik Schick cut in and shot from the right wing. However, his effort was deflected wide.

At the other end, Denmark could have got a second when they broke away. Mikkel Damsgaard took the ball wide as he closed in on goal, but the chance faded as a defender cleared it on the line.

A free kick led to the Czechs’ next chance, with the ball falling to Petr Sevcik. However, he got under it and fired a volley over the bar.

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Delaney could have doubled his personal tally when arriving into the box to meet a cross soon after. But he could not connect as cleanly as he had for his header and sent the ball wide.

The next danger Denmark faced came when Kasper Schmeichel made an error when passing the ball out from the back. Lukas Masopust tried to capitalise, threading a ball through to Schick, but Schmeichel made himself big to block any attempt on goal.

It was his side who seemed to be in the ascendancy, though. Martin Braithwaite was the next to have a chance, but he sliced a shot from a tight angle wide.

Their opponents were gaining some rhythm as well. Tomas Holes forced a save from Schmeichel after getting on the end of a cross.

An end-to-end, flowing encounter, the next chance came at the opposite end. Damsgaard tested Vaclik with a shot, but the Czech keeper was equal to it.

Denmark double lead

There was nothing he could do when Denmark doubled their lead less than five minutes before the break, though. Joakim Maehle provided a contender for the best assist of the tournament by crossing in from the left with the outside of his right boot.

Dolberg got on the end of it to provide the finishing touch, extending his tally for the tournament to three.

Needing to find a response, Czech Republic made a double substitution at half-time. Michal Krmencik and Jakub Jankto came on for Holes and Masopust – and the impact was instant.

Krmencik got into the heat of the action just a minute into the second half. Finding a pocket of space outside the box, he tested Schmeichel, who had to push his shot away.

It helped give some momentum to his side, who went close again when Schmeichel stopped a shot from Antonin Barak.

Next, Schick tried his luck with an overhead kick, which was on target but was blocked. However, he soon got his name on the scoresheet.

The striker clipped home a cross from Vladimir Coufal to move level with Cristiano Ronaldo – who has already been eliminated – as the tournament’s top scorer so far. However, this too would be his last goal of the competition.

The momentum had shifted but Czech Republic still needed another goal to stay in the competition.

The wind was knocked out of their sails somewhat, though, after two injuries in the same passage of play. Soucek received a blow to the head from the studs of Yussuf Poulsen, while Ondrej Celustka was carried off the pitch by his teammates.

Soucek was able to continue playing, but his team needed to rediscover the surge that they had been building until that point.

There was a nervous moment for their opponents when Simon Kjaer swung at a clearance. But it didn’t go as close to his own net as may have appeared.

On the whole, though, Denmark were calming down again. They could have put daylight between themselves and the opponents when Poulsen took aim from outside the box, but Vaclik pushed it away.

Maehle was the next to think he could seal it for the Danes, but the angle was too wide for his effort to trouble Vaclik.

In the end, the one-goal margin was still enough. They saw out six minutes of stoppage time to confirm their place in the last four of the tournament.

Barak had the best chance for the Czechs to equalise with a late volley from the edge of the box. However, time was about to run out for them, and it was indeed Denmark who advanced by the full-time whistle.

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