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LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 07: Harry Kane of England celebrates with teammate Phil Foden after scoring their team’s second goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Semi-final match between England and Denmark at Wembley Stadium on July 07, 2021 in London, England. (Photo : Alex Morton – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
The long 55-year wait is finally over. England reached its first major final since their famous 1966 World Cup triumph with a thrilling 2-1 win over Denmark in the semifinals of the Euro 2020 tournament on Wednesday.
Captain Harry Kane delivered the all-important match-winner, knocking in the rebound after Denmark’s Kasper Schmeichel had saved his initial penalty attempt in the dying minutes of the first period of extra time. It was an emotional moment for Kane, who scored his fourth goal at Euro 2020, putting him in the level of the great Gary Lineker for most goals in England’s major tournament history with 10.
Kane paid tribute to the opposition in a post-match interview, saying, “Unbelievable, what a game though, credit to Denmark. We dug deep and we got there when it mattered. We reacted really well, we’re in a final at home, what a feeling.”
England battles back from an early deficit
The game did not start according to plan for England as the Three Lions conceded their first goal of the tournament in the 30th minute. Youngster Mikkel Damsgaard opened the scoring with a fantastic free-kick from a distance, driving his shot past Jordan Pickford to make it 1-0 and putting an end to Pickford’s streak of clean sheets for the entirety of the Euro 2020 tournament.
England battled back strongly, though, and scored a deserved equalizer in the 39th minute. Harry Kane released a perfect through ball to Bukayo Saka, who then delivered a tasty cross to Raheem Sterling. Denmark’s Simon Kjaer had no other option but to slide and block Saka’s cross to deny Sterling, but his defensive effort went straight into the back of the net for an unfortunate own goal.
That goal validated manager Gareth Southgate’s decision to reinsert Saka back into the starting lineup and replace Jadon Sancho, who impressed in the quarterfinal win against Ukraine. The second half provided non-stop entertainment but very few goal-scoring chances as the game finished 1-1 in regulation. That’s the seventh time in this year’s tournament that a game has gone into extra time, a new European Championship record.
Controversial penalty sends England to dream final with Italy
Sterling once again played a crucial part in England’s second goal as he earned a controversial penalty after Joakim Maehle brought him down inside the box, albeit with minimal contact. The England winger defended the penalty decision in his favor, saying, “I went into the box and he stuck his right leg out, and it touched my leg so it was a clear penalty.”
England managed to negotiate the final 15 minutes of extra time without any trouble as they booked a titanic showdown with Italy in Sunday’s final at the Wembley Stadium. The Italians have been in fine form the entire tournament, winning all of their six matches, although their last game against Spain was decided via a penalty shootout.
It was a disappointing end to the tournament for Denmark, who embarked on a fairytale run to the semifinals, overcoming the loss of star player Christian Eriksen who suffered a cardiac arrest in their opening group match.
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