They suffered after the Christian Eriksen drama. They were surprised as outsiders. They were close to the European Championships finals. But the Danish dream ends shortly before – with a controversial penalty.
Until recently, an English national soccer team couldn’t have so much fun with penalties in a major tournament. In the tiresome lottery of football, they never drew the lucky ticket in all the long years of suffering but instead tragically failed again and again when they hit the point. On July 3, 2018, however, the fate of the “Three Lions” turned. England won in the round of 16 of the World Cup. After a penalty shoot-out. Against Colombia. Some people still cannot believe it today. But it is true.
And it got even better. On Wednesday evening, the final shooting from eleven meters with numerous shooters did not decide. But the English were twice as lucky. The penalty in the extension of the semi-finals of the European Championship was controversial. And then Captain Harry Kane stepped up to play nerves with Kasper Schmeichel. The Denmark goalkeeper was actually in the right corner and parried Kane’s attempt. But the ball bounced back to the feet of the striker who took the second chance. And again, the English could hardly believe their luck.
They defeated the brave Danes 2-1 after extra time and are in a European Championship final for the first time in history. Fifty-five years after the legendary World Cup final victory over Germany in 1966 at Wembley Stadium, they now want to win another title. In the same place, in the meanwhile converted football temple, Italy is waiting on Sunday (9 p.m. in the F.A.Z. live ticker for the European Football Championship, on Z.D.F. and MagentaTV). Denmark had taken the lead with a superb free-kick from Mikkel Damsgaard (30th minute), while an own goal by Simon Kjaer made it 1-1 (39th).
“That makes me angry.”
Then Raheem Sterling dribbled into the Danish penalty area in the 102nd minute in extra time. He was almost on the baseline, twisted past the first opponent, ran on to the goal and then fell when a second Dane rushed to the six-yard area. The Danes raised their hands as a sign of innocence, and the English raised their hands as a sign of protest. And referee Danny Makkelie whistled and pointed to the penalty spot. The review of video assistant Pol van Boekel did not change the decision. But should such an E.M. semi-final be decided?
No, at least I thought Danish coach Kasper Hjulmand. “We are very disappointed, it’s tough for me to talk about. Maybe I can say that better in a few days,” he said. “That it will be decided that way – I’ve read the international press – it was a penalty that shouldn’t have been given, that makes me angry.” Sterling was sure. “It was definitely a penalty,” he said. “I went into the box, he stretched his leg, it was a clear penalty.” His coach Gareth Southgate refrained from commenting: “If you look at the game as a whole, we deserve it. We had more chances. ”
Both coaches agreed with the evaluation of the Danish EM, which ended much later than everyone had thought. “They played an unbelievable tournament,” said Southgate, who praised the Hjulmand team after the drama about their star Christian Eriksen, who suffered cardiac arrest in the first European Championship game and had to be revived on the pitch, above all from the emotional support they gave Compatriots was carried through the tournament. The Danish coach also said: “These guys are extraordinary, the nation can be proud.” And yet, the end was bitter.
Hjulmand emotional: “Have been through so much.”
The emotional situation with the English in their stadium was utterly different in front of almost 65,000 fans who were completely over the moon. “I’ve never seen Wembley like this. To share that with the nation is very special,” said coach Southgate. “The best thing is that we gave our fans and the nation a fantastic night.” But this night is over at some point and focuses on what’s coming next. “What an opportunity, our first European Championship final at Wembley,” said winning goal scorer Kane. “We’re enjoying it today, but the focus is now on Sunday.”