A summary of England’s semifinal record in a major tournament.
•EURO 1968 semis: England 0-1 Yugoslavia
•World Cup 1990 semis: England 1-1 West Germany (3-4 on penalties)
•EURO 1996 semis: England 1-1 Germany (5-6 on penalties)
•World Cup 2018 semis: England 1-2 Croatia
•EURO 2020 semis: England 2-1 Denmark
England will face Italy in the UEFA EURO 2020 final after Harry Kane’s extra-time finish eliminated dogged Denmark.
Harry Kane put away the rebound after Kasper Schmeichel saved his extra-time penalty to take England past Denmark and into the final of UEFA EURO 2020.
Mikkel Damsgaard had given Denmark the lead with a glorious free-kick after 30 minutes, but England got back on terms before half-time, Simon Kjær turning a Bukayo Saka cross into his own net under pressure from Raheem Sterling.
England started with purpose, but Denmark pressed relentlessly to cut supply lines and scrap for openings, and had created a couple of half-chances before a foul 25 metres out invited the menacing Damsgaard to score the first direct free-kick of the tournament. His brilliant effort flew past the diving Jordan Pickford on the half-hour mark: the first goal England had conceded in 480 minutes at EURO 2020.
Gareth Southgate’s men were momentarily crestfallen, but should have levelled when Kane squared for Sterling, Schmeichel blocking his close-range attempt. The equaliser came soon afterwards, though, Saka redirecting Kane’s ball across goal from the right for Kjær to nudge into his own net in a futile bid to deny Sterling. It was the first own goal that has ever gone England’s way at a EURO.
England had blown Ukraine away early in the second half in the quarter-final, but Denmark offered stiffer resistance. Schmeichel produced a terrific one-handed stop from a Harry Maguire header, but the arrival of Jack Grealish off the bench coincided with a more concerted English push, tiring Denmark digging deeper and deeper to hold the line. Pressure did not translate into clear-cut chances though, with extra time the inevitable outcome.
Schmeichel repelled a low Kane shot early on, then pounded away a Grealish drive. The goalkeeper made another fine save to push away Kane’s penalty after the Danes were penalised for a foul on Sterling, but could not prevent England’s captain from putting away the rebound: the No9’s fourth goal of EURO 2020. It was all about game management from there; Denmark scrapped to get back into contention, but the hosts ultimately did enough. Not necessarily pretty, but effective.
Harry Kane, England captain: “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. We know it’s going to be a very tough game against Italy. We’ve had a great tournament so far. One more game to go at home, and we can’t wait.”
Gareth Southgate, England manager: “I’m so proud of the players. It was an incredible occasion to be a part of. The fans were incredible all night. We knew it wouldn’t be straightforward. The [Ukraine] game the other night in Rome was so straightforward. We said to the players that we would have to show some resilience, that they would have to recover from some setbacks, and we did that.”
Raheem Sterling, England forward: “It was a top performance. We had to dig deep. It was the first time we conceded but we responded well and showed good spirit. We knew it would be difficult. We stayed patient, and we knew with the legs and aggressiveness we have in the team that we’d be OK.”
Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark coach: “Obviously, it’s a big disappointment that we’re so close to the final. 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.”
Kane is now level with Gary Lineker as England’s all-time leading scorer at EURO and World Cup final tournaments with ten goals; his extra-time goal was England’s 50th in EURO final tournaments.
The No9 is only the third England player to score four or more at a EURO after Alan Shearer (five at EURO ’96) and Wayne Rooney (four at 2004).
Damsgaard’s opener was the first direct free-kick scored at EURO 2020 and made him the fourth Danish player to score two or more at a EURO. Two of the last four EURO finals goals England have conceded have been direct free-kicks: Damsgaard’s plus Gareth Bale’s for Wales at EURO 2016.
England’s equaliser was the first own goal that has ever gone in their favour at a EURO tournament.
At 19 years and 305 days, Saka became the youngest player to start a match for England at the semi-final stage or later of a major tournament.
Just three teams have let in the first goal and gone on to win the game in the previous 49 matches at EURO 2020: Belgium (2-1 v Denmark), Germany (4-2 v Portugal) and Spain (5-3 v Croatia).
This is the first time since 1992 that all four teams have scored in the semi-finals at a EURO tournament; both semi-finals also went to extra time in 1976, 1984, 1996, and 2000.
Excluding penalty shoot-outs, England have lost just one of their last 17 EURO final tournament matches (W10 D6 L1); they have won 13 of their last 15 matches at Wembley.
Denmark’s last appearance in the semi-finals at EURO was in 1992 when they won the tournament. The 29-year gap between their appearances in the last four is a EURO record.
Denmark’s total of 12 goals scored at EURO 2020 is their highest ever at a EURO tournament and also eclipsed their previous major-championship high of ten goals (1986 World Cup); they scored the first goal in 14 of their last 17 international matches. (Uefa Media)