Sunday, August 1, 2021

We can be proud of these kids – Hjulmand confident of tournament success for Denmark

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 7 Jul 2021

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Kasper Hjulmand is confident Denmark will triumph at a major tournament after they suffered a semi-final exit to England at Euro 2020.

The Danes – who were rocked by Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in their opening game of their campaign – have garnered plenty of support throughout the tournament, but fell short in a 2-1 defeat to Gareth Southgate’s team at Wembley on Wednesday.

Harry Kane tucked away a rebound after seeing a penalty, contentiously awarded for a foul on Raheem Sterling, saved by Kasper Schmeichel in extra-time.

It proved too much for Denmark, who took the lead through Mikell Damsgaard’s excellent free-kick – the first direct free-kick goal of Euro 2020 – to come back from. Simon Kjaer’s own goal, the first Denmark have scored at a European Championship, had dragged England level before half-time.

Though they ultimately fell at the penultimate hurdle, Hjulmand has nothing but pride for his team, and he feels success is just around the corner.

“Obviously, it’s a big disappointment that we’re so close to the final, and different circumstances during the match mean that we’re not taking the last step,” he told a news conference.

“It has been amazing what the boys have done. There’s a fantastic power within these guys. They play football in a fantastic way.

“We’ve been attacking, scoring goals and showed our true selves. The players just went on with everything they have – both off and on the pitch.

“We have a team that saved the life of one of our players. I am very happy for our country, we have been a good team, a lot of love and we received support.

“We were emotional, we could have made it to the final, there will be new opportunities, I look to the future with hope. We can be proud of these kids!

“Our only disappointment is not reaching the final. We can achieve great success in a big tournament again.”

Wednesday’s encounter was the seventh game at Euro 2020 to go to extra-time, with the 1990 and 2014 World Cups the only major tournaments to reach that figure.

Sterling’s energy ultimately proved the difference in that period, with the in-form Manchester City forward, who completed 10 dribbles in the game, finding a gap in Denmark’s defence before drawing a foul from Joakim Maehle, one of the standout performers of Euro 2020.

The contact appeared to be minimal, but VAR did not overturn the decision from referee Danny Makkelie to award an England penalty.

“It bothers me to know that the penalty was not right,” said Hjulmand, whose frustration was evident. “The players put in a lot of effort. We didn’t want to be eliminated like that.”

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