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England beat Denmark following a controversial penalty to reach Euro 2020 final

A soft penalty decision was the decisive factor as Harry Kane scored from his own penalty rebound to put England in the final of a major tournament for the second time ever. They will host Italy at Wembley in the final.

July 08, 2021 / 03:59 AM IST
England's Harry Kane, center, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the Euro 2020 soccer semifinal match between England and Denmark at Wembley stadium in London, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (Laurence Griffiths/Pool Photo via AP)

England's Harry Kane, center, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the Euro 2020 soccer semifinal match between England and Denmark at Wembley stadium in London, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (Laurence Griffiths/Pool Photo via AP)

Fifty-five years after reaching their first major tournament final, England have once again got themselves in another final, courtesy of a very questionable penalty decision. If luck went England’s way in being awarded the penalty, it soon went England’s way again when Kane’s penalty was saved by Schmeichel only to rebound into the path of the English striker who just tapped it in to give England the decisive lead. Denmark played fearlessly throughout the tournament, and they are understandably dejected. After toiling for over a month, their fate was sealed by an own goal and a penalty decision that should not have been given. They were even down to ten men after Jensen's injury because they had used up all their substitutions.

England started on a positive note, dominating the game with much of the possession. They made a few threatening runs up the Denmark defence, but weren’t able to find a breakthrough. But Denmark soon composed themselves and started dominating the game. They pressed and tested the English defense with Damsgaard and Dolberg both making threatening runs behind the English backline.

Denmark’s persistent attacking paid off. Damsgaard provided the breakthrough in the 30th minute with a bullet free-kick that breached the English goal for the first time in Euro 2020. It was a dipping free-kick hit with power from 25 yards out and it sailed over the leaping Pickford and into goal. England looked ragged after conceding the goal with Denmark pushing to make the most of it.

Like Denmark did prior to their goal, England too started to make surging runs down the Danish backline forcing Denmark goalkeeper Schmeichel to make a fabulous save. But Denmark weren’t allowed to breathe. Just forty-six seconds later, the Denmark goal was breached, albeit an own goal from Kjaer. Kane’s pass found Saka on the right flank. He sent a fierce ball across the face of goal in search of Sterling. Kjaer got there first, but unfortunately, he could only divert it into his own goal.

The second half saw both teams playing a more measure game, not wanting to let the other find any breakthroughs. Harry Maguire almost put England ahead early on in the second half, but was denied by a superb save from the defiant Schmeichel. Neither team could make much happen as the game spilled over to extra-time.

Close

Sterling who had been a thorn for Denmark all night, made it happen for England. He got into the box forcing his way through couple of Danish defenders and went down inside the box. The referee pointed to the spot immediately. There was a long VAR check where it didn't look like there was any contact from Maehle on Sterling, who had made a calculated dive into the ground after a soft brush from Maehle. England's poster boy Harry Kane stepped up to take the penalty, but his shot was read by Schmeichel who got a hand to the ball. But fate was on Kane's side as the ball rebounded right onto his path which tapped into goal to send the Wembley crowd into ecstasy. England could smell victory.

Southgate soon reverted his side to a back three system and they got the job done with Denmark failing to make any serious threats in front of goal. Jensen's injury meant they had to play with ten men since they had used up all their substitutes.

While Denmark played with a man down in extra time, England drew their energy from their exuberant home crowd who played as their 12th man. England. The Danish supporters applauded their team who were heroic throughout the tournament following Eriksen's collapse in their opening game against England. England will now have the chance to play at home in only their second final since their triumph in the 1966 world cup. Will they finally end their 55-year wait for a major footballing silverware? We'll find out this Sunday.

 
Neeraj Krishnan

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