England daring to dream as record-matching Kane sinks dogged Denmark to book historic Euro 2020 final spot

Date published: Wednesday 7th July 2021 10:36 - Samuel Bannister

Phil Foden, Harry Kane England celebration Euro 2020 semi final TEAMtalk

Harry Kane scored the decisive goal after missing a penalty in extra time as England beat Denmark 2-1 to reach the final of Euro 2020.

England were dreaming of a first appearance at a major tournament final since they won the World Cup in 1966. Gareth Southgate’s side had to come from behind in a tense affair, but there was an outpouring of joy when they managed to do just that.

Just like in the previous day’s semi-final between Italy and Spain, it went beyond 90 minutes. Finishing 1-1 after normal time, the game was decided when Kane missed a penalty and scored the rebound to make England ecstatic.

They will now face Italy in the final at the same venue on Sunday, hoping to get their hands on the trophy.

England made just one change to the lineup that had seen off Ukraine in the quarter-finals. Bukayo Saka came back into the starting lineup in place of Jadon Sancho. Denmark, meanwhile, kept the same starting XI from their last-eight win over Czech Republic.

The atmosphere at kick-off was electric and although the tempo on the pitch went some way to matching it in the early stages, both sides took their time to settle.

England’s first genuine chance came after five minutes, when Kane whipped a low cross in from the right. However, it was just a little too far for Raheem Sterling to reach.

Denmark began to click a few minutes later, when a series of neat passes led to Mikkel Damsgaard chasing the ball down towards goal. Kyle Walker was quick across the ground to thwart him, though.

Unlike his previous chance, Sterling had plenty of the ball when he next ventured into forward territories. But after dribbling in from the left wing, he eventually scuffed his right-footed shot.

England’s next chance was even less troubling for Kasper Schmeichel. Walker set up Kane, but the striker blazed a fast effort from outside the box well over the bar.


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Opposite keeper Jordan Pickford faced a tougher test shortly after. He saved a shot from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but gave the ball away when clearing it, leading to more Danish danger. There was a sigh of relief for him and the backline as it led to nothing too troubling, though.

Denmark were building momentum, though, and another chance came when Harry Maguire headed the ball straight to an opponent. Possession ended up with Damsgaard, who tried to curl one into the opposite top corner. His effort was off target, but it was another wake-up call for England.

Damsgaard’s next effort was on target, though – and it became the opening goal.

One free kick just inside the England half led to another on the edge of the box. The Sampdoria winger stood over it and lifted it over the wall with power. Pickford got a fingertip to it, but by that point the ball was only ending up in one place – the back of the net.

After half an hour, Denmark were in front with the first free kick goal of the tournament. England were in uncharted territory after conceding their first goal of the competition and their reaction would be important.

The hosts got a free kick in a similar position a few minutes later. However, Sterling’s attempt was headed away by Simon Kjaer in the wall.

The Manchester City winger had a golden chance from open play next, but Schmeichel stood firm to keep him out from extremely close range. Moments later, though, England did find the net.

Kane slid the ball through for Saka on the right, who sent the ball square across the face of goal. As Sterling raced to get on the end of it, Kjaer stuck a leg out to stop him and diverted it into his own net.

Less than 10 minutes separated the two goals, as England found the response they needed. The game was back on a knife edge as the half-time whistle blew.

Tense second half

The second half started in just as lively fashion, flowing end to end. Pickford made a strong save to deny Kasper Dolberg, who was offside anyway, shortly after the resumption.

At the other end, England went close to taking the lead for the first time on the night. Mason Mount curled in a free kick, which Maguire headed goalward, only for Schmeichel to reach and push it away.

As the hour-mark approached, a familiar pattern followed as Dolberg tried to get the better of Pickford, unsuccessfully.

England began to up the tempo, without many clear-cut chances arriving. For example, in one attack, a Luke Shaw cross was turned behind for a corner which led to nothing, and in another, Kalvin Phillips set up Mount, but the Chelsea man saw his shot blocked.

Mount took aim again next as the momentum built up, but Schmeichel had a simple catch.

With the tension increasing, both sides made their first substitutions within a couple of minutes of each other. England introduced Jack Grealish after Denmark sent on Yussuf Poulsen, Daniel Wass and Christian Norgaard in a triple change.

It was someone who was already on the pitch who created England’s next chance. Mount, who was getting more involved, floated a cross in, which was dipping and required Schmeichel to tip over the bar.

England appealed for a penalty soon after following a collision between Kane and Norgaard. The referee awarded a free kick to Denmark, though, and VAR did not overrule him.

Time was running out to get the job done in 90 minutes, so Phillips tried to take the initiative with an effort from outside the box. However, it went wide.

Likewise, an off-balance John Stones’ header missed the target after he got on the end of a Shaw free kick.

There were six minutes of added time, which spilled over into a seventh. Within them, Phillips fired an effort over the bar and Maguire had a header saved, but Denmark’s resolute defending earned them extra time.

England win it after extra time

Kane had the first chance of the additional 30 minutes, but Schmeichel did well to keep it out.

Perhaps crucially for England, they still had five substitutions available to make, in contrast to Denmark’s one. The first fresh legs to enter the fray were Jordan Henderson and Phil Foden, in place of Declan Rice and Mount.

Pressure begin to build again, with Grealish forcing a save from Schmeichel and Sterling aiming over.

Sterling had a more decisive impact a few minutes later when Joakim Maehle brought him down in the penalty box. It looked fairly soft, so there was an anxious wait as VAR checked it, but the original decision stood. All of a sudden, the weight of a nation was on Kane’s shoulders.

Schmeichel dived the right way to make the save, but the England captain pounced on the rebound to put the ball away and make it 2-1. In the process, he matched Gary Lineker’s record as the country’s top scorer at major tournaments with 10 goals.

For the second half of extra time, Southgate took sub Grealish off for defender Kieran Trippier to change the system.

England tried to take as few risks as possible, but still had shouts for another penalty when Henderson went down. It was not given, though, despite looking more of a foul than the one that was.

At the other end, there were nerves as Pickford pushed away a curling effort from Martin Braithwaite. In general, though, England were resolute – and they managed to see it out.

Now, just one more hurdle remains between England and competition glory – a tough challenge against Italy. All eyes will be on Wembley on Sunday for what promises to be a thrilling encounter.

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