UEFA 2020 Euro Championship – Day 24
Czech Republic (0) 1 – 2 (2) Denmark
Goalscorers: Czech Republic – Schick (49′). Denmark – Delaney (5′), Dolberg (42′)
Olympic Stadium, Baku
The Danish adventure continues, although they were made to work for it by a physical Czech Republic team. Who would have guessed after their defeats to Finland and Belgium, that the Danes would be one game away from the Final? Momentum and the emotion from the dreadful Christian Eriksen incident have seen this side go on to beat Russia (4-1) in their final group game, Wales (4-0) in the Round of 16 and now the Czech Republic. Denmark were ahead as early as the fifth minute. There was a bit of fortune about it, as the Danes were awarded a corner, when a goal-kick should have been awarded, and they pounced on the opportunity with poor marking allowing Delaney to head home. With high temperatures in Baku, the game wasn’t played at a great pace with genuine chances at a premium. However, just before the break, Denmark scored their second from a counter-attack. Maehle curled in an exquisite cross and with Braithwaite unable to connect, Dolberg with a side-foot volley from six yards made it 2-0. The Czech Republic knew they had to start fast in the second-half and came out all guns blazing, with Schmeichel having to save from Barak in the opening minutes and it was no surprise when they got a goal back on forty-nine minutes. Coufal crossed from the right and Schick guided his volley home. It was his fifth goal of the tournament, taking him level with Portugal’s Ronaldo in the race for the Golden Boot. The Czech’s continued to apply pressure in search of an equaliser, but their momentum was broken when Soucek received a cut to the head, which required attention with the break seeming to benefit Denmark more, who saw out the game to clinch their semi-final place. Hans Christian Andersen couldn’t have written a better story. Is it really going to be 1992 all over again?
Ukraine (0) 0 – 4 (1) England
Goalscorers: Kane (4′, 50′), Maguire (46′), Henderson (63′)
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Wow, wow, wow! Genuinely didn’t see that coming. Did playing away from Wembley help, with the added pressure a home game brings lifted? Was the German victory the game that gave the Three Lions the confidence? Who knows! But whatever it was, the game in Rome was a night to remember, but like the Germany victory, means nothing if England don’t go on to at least make the Final. Harry Kane looked a different player and settled England’s nerves with a goal after four minutes. Raheem Sterling was yet again at the heart of this goal drifting across the Ukraine defence before a delightful through ball saw Kane stretch and toe past the advancing Bushchan. A dream start. With Ukraine packing their defence England had to be patient and had plenty of possession as the half progressed. Ukraine though had their moments coinciding with a change of formation when Kryvtsov had to go off on thirty-five minutes, as Pickford had to save from Yaremchuk and Shaparenko fired wide from distance. 1-0 at the break and work still to do. However, the game was effectively over five minutes into the second-half. Just a minute after the break, a wonderfully delivered free-kick from Luke Shaw was headed home by Harry Maguire and then on fifty minutes, Kane got his second. A lovely backheel by Sterling released Shaw with his cross headed home by the Three Lions skipper. This allowed Gareth Southgate to take off players who had yellow cards and who could have potentially missed the semi-final, as well as rest some of the others. Amongst those was Kane, but before he departed he was denied a hat-trick after a sumptuous volley from the edge of the box was superbly save by Bushchan. With England totally in control, a corner saw substitute Jordan Henderson finally break his goal-scoring duck for his country as he headed home the Three Lions’ fourth on the night. The remainder of the game was a rare thing for England fans, a stress-free watch, as a place in the semi-final was in the bag. Praise for the team and for Gareth Southgate who got his changes right yet again. Special mention to Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko, who showed his class at the end by congratulating the England players. A break now, as we rest until Tuesday and Wednesday, as Wembley hosts the two semi-final games.