Saturday 3rd July 2021
Narrow success against the Czech Republic
Semifinals! Denmark’s dream lives on
The Danish fairy tale continues, the dream of the second European title after 1992 is living. After a controversial corner, a Bundesliga star meets early. The Scandinavians lead confidently at halftime. The Czech Republic tries everything – in vain! After the drama about Christian Eriksen, anything is still possible for Denmark. But for that they have to improve.
After the next successful chapter in this emotional EM story, Thomas Delaney and Co. stormed to the Danish fans. The exhausted but happy players celebrated with a wave, coach Kasper Hjulmand enjoyed the semi-finals on the edge with a red and white fishing hat on his head. The Danes celebrated the success in the duel of the surprise teams almost like a title.
Thanks to the hard-won 2: 1 (2: 0) in the quarter-finals against the Czech Republic with high-flyer Patrik Schick, Hjulmand’s team can continue to dream of the big sensation – and the culmination of an impressive journey. Spurred on by the drama about Christian Eriksen and the heroes of 1992, the Danes continue to march cheerfully through the tournament. Dortmund’s Thomas Delaney (5th) and striker Kasper Dolberg (42nd) brought Denmark back into the top four teams at an EM for the first time since winning the title 29 years ago with their goals in the quarter-finals in Baku. It’s the next high point in the tournament that started so emotionally when Eriksen’s collapse.
“We wanted to go back to Wembley”
The fight for the final is on Wednesday (9 p.m.) in London’s Wembley Stadium against Ukraine or England. Schick (49th) shortened again, but his Czechs missed the first EM semi-final since 2004. With his fifth tournament goal, the Leverkusen player drew level with the already eliminated Cristiano Ronaldo in the scorer list – and with the Czech EM record scorer Milan Baros.
“It’s big, it’s crazy. We had one goal: We wanted to go back to Wembley. But I would be lying if I said now that that’s enough for us,” said captain Siman Kjaer on Danish radio. Czechs chic said: “If we hadn’t conceded two goals, we could have won. But that’s football, it’s about mistakes, we’re out. When we look back, we deserve great respect. Not many people believed in us, us have shown that we can keep up with the big players. I am proud of this team. ”
The unique opportunity
Hjulmand had made the importance of the game clear before kick-off. This is “an opportunity”, emphasized the Danish coach, “which we may never get again”. Once again Denmark fought for Eriksen, who had collapsed in the first tournament game. “He’s still the heart of the team,” said Hjulmand.
Denmark started the game without Eriksen and initially without Yussuf Poulsen. Dolberg, double goal scorer from the round of 16, was given preference in the top over the Leipziger, who had missed the last time. Hjulmand trusted the team who had played convincingly against Wales (4-0). And the Scandinavians got off to a perfect start. Delaney headed in the first offensive action completely free after a corner, which should not have been there. The protests of the Czechs before the corner kick hadn’t changed anything in the decision of referee Björn Kuipers.
The Czech Republic defends itself, Dolberg scores
But the leadership did not give the Danes the security they had hoped for. Little speed, hardly any ideas – the Czechs made the better impression in a poor first half, who appeared twice dangerously in front of the Danish goal through Tomas Holes (22nd / 35th). Little was to be seen of the rousing performances of Hjulmand’s team in the previous games, and the Danes rarely launched single-minded attacks on the fast Martin Braithwaite and Mikkel Damsgaard. But they convinced with effectiveness: Dolberg pushed in after a wonderful cross from Joakim Maehle ice cold.
After the break, captain Vladimir Darida, who was injured in the surprise coup against the Netherlands (2-0), remained on the bench with the Czech Republic. But coach Jaroslav Silhavy’s team showed a reaction even without the Hertha professional and immediately rewarded themselves with Schick. After the Czechs got off to a quick start, Denmark calmed the game down a bit. Hjulmand pulled Christensen as a stabilizer from the three-man chain into midfield, and brought Poulsen as a fresh striker to relieve the pressure. The momentum after the break from Schick and Co. fizzled out with increasing playing time.