24 hours after Italy managed to sneak their way past Spain from the penalty spot, England booked their place in the final of this summer’s European Championships on what was a nervy night at Wembley.
Backed by a noisy home support in the capital and with over 60,000 fans in attendance, the largest sporting capacity over the past 15 months, Gareth Southgate’s side overcome a first-half stunner from Mikkel Damsgaard’s long-range free-kick as The Three Lions booked their first major tournament final since 1966.
A night that was filled with high drama and plenty of controversy after Harry Kane converted England’s penalty in extra-time, we have taken a look at the major talking points as Wednesday’s hosts picked up a 2-1 win against an inspired Denmark.
Was it a penalty?
While Raheem Sterling had a golden chance to wrap up proceedings and grab England a third in the dying moments of extra-time, there is no doubt that most of the discussions around Europe this morning will still be surrounding the Manchester City wingers hugely controversial penalty late in the Wembley night.
Enjoying what has been a stellar summer and proving why Southgate was right to stick with him from their opening Group D meeting against Croatia last month, Sterling was judged to have been clipped by Danish defender Joakim Maehle with 103 minutes on the clock.
With almost the whole of England and Wembley holding their breath as a long VAR check deciding to stick with the on-field decision, many neutrals from across the continent, including ITV pundit Roy Keane, felt that Denmark were hard done by thanks to the first real bit of VAR controversy at this year’s delayed European Championships.
Kane makes history
While Denmark boss Kapser Hjulmand might have been the first to admit his frustration at the full-time whistle after Sterling’s controversial extra-time penalty, Harry Kane wouldn’t have been the least bit concerned as he was handed a golden chance to once again break more Three Lions history from 12 yards out.
Although the England skipper might have struggled to find his feet during their three Group D matchups last month, the Manchester City target suddenly finds himself on a free-scoring European run and his rebounded penalty in extra-time will be a moment that lives long in British folk law.
While Kane might have struggled to get much of a foothold from open play once again, that all went out the window as he managed to tap home from close range after Kasper Schmeichel fumbled what was a poor spot-kick low to his left. However, bundling the ball past the inspired Leicester keeper, Kane has now equaled Gary Lineker’s long-standing record of 10 goals for England at major tournaments.
Southgate shows he’s ruthless
Opening up this summer’s delayed European Championships with the shock decision to start Keiran Trippier at left-back in England’s 1-0 win against Croatia on June 13th, there is no doubt that many have questioned at some point if Southgate is the man to lead England to their first international title since 1966.
Once again igniting his spot as a cult hero on home soil, like he managed out in Russia three years ago, the one-time Aston Villa defender has only continued to show that he will not be swayed from his plans, despite all of the background noise regarding his tactics and choice of selection.
Once again bringing back in Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka from the start in place of Jadon Sancho, Southgate’s ruthless streak was underlined by his decision to substitute fan favourite Jack Grealish, despite the 25-year-old only coming off the bench in the second-half. Struggling to forge his way into England’s starting XI this summer, Grealish was only on the pitch for a total of 36 minutes at Wembley.
Denmark’s fairytale comes to an end
With the hugely impressive Mikkel Damsgaard opening the scoring with a thunderbolt free-kick with half an hour on the clock, many fans from across Europe, and some inside of Wembley, would have felt that an inspired Denmark were on course to extend on their remarkable fairytale story.
Watching attacking talisman Christian Eriksen go into Cardiac Arrest in their Group B opener against Finland last month amidst distressing scenes, few would have expected Denmark to only go on a real European adventure, especially after losing each of their opening two group contests and needing a minor final day miracle against Russia.
Eventually securing a stunning 4-1 romp against the 2018 World Cup hosts, The Danes came past both Wales and the Czech Republic in the knockout stage and their inspirational journey will undoubtedly be one of the stories of the summer.
England: Pickford (6), Walker (7), Maguire (7.5), Stones (7.5), Shaw (7), Rice (6.5), Phillips (7), Mount (6), Sterling (8), Kane (6.5), Saka (8)
Subs: Grealish (4), Henderson (7), Trippier (6), Foden (7.5)
Denmark: Schmeichel (8.5), Christensen (7), Kjær (7), Vestergaard (7), Stryger Larsen (6), Højbjerg (6), Delaney (6.5), Mæhle (6.5), Damsgaard (7.5), Dolberg (7), Braithwaite (6.5)
Subs: Andersen (6), Nørgaard (6), Wass (6), Wind (5), Poulsen (7), Jensen (5)
Goals: England: Kjær OG 39’, Kane (pen) 104’ – Denmark: Damsgaard 30’
Yellow Cards: England: Maguire – Denmark: Wass
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Danny Makkelie
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