Denmark suspends Czech rally to keep Euro 2020 dream alive
Posted On July 3, 2021
Denmark’s fairytale race to Euro 2020 will continue through to the semi-finals after beating the Czech Republic 2-1 in Baku on Saturday to advance to the last four games with England or Ukraine at Wembley.
The goals of Thomas Delaney and Kasper Dolberg in the first half were enough to allow Kasper Hjulmand’s men to qualify despite a second-half Czech trade inspired by Patrik Schick’s fifth goal of the tournament.
The Danes have now scored 10 goals in winning their last three matches after starting the tournament with two losses, the first in shocking circumstances when Christian Eriksen suffered cardiac arrest on the pitch.
Three weeks later, they dream of a repeat of 1992 when Denmark won the European Championship without even qualifying.
Then the expulsion from Yugoslavia due to an outbreak of war gave them a second chance and they play as a team inspired by the emotion of Eriksen’s collapse and recovery.
The Inter Milan midfielder was able to leave hospital after less than a week with a defibrillator placed in his chest, but on the pitch Denmark survived the loss of their star man in the last decade.
After making all three group matches in Copenhagen and in front of thousands of Danish fans traveling to Amsterdam in a 4-0 loss to Wales last weekend, only a small pocket of supporters were able to make it. 4000 kilometer trip to Azerbaijan.
Those who did celebrated within five minutes as Delaney was left unmarked to return home in the corner of Jens Stryger Larsen.
Tomas Vaclik then had to push Mikkel Damsgaard back to prevent the Danes from doubling their lead in a thunderous start.
But the Czechs then came on and on two occasions Kasper Schmeichel was forced to a standstill by Tomas Holes.
Denmark were still a threat at the break, however, and Vaclik had to stand up to ward off another powerful push from Damsgaard.
Vaclik was helpless three minutes before halftime when Joakim Maehle added another assist to his beautiful tournament with a teasing cross with the outside of his right foot which Dolberg crushed at close range.
Czech boss Jaroslav Silhavy made two changes at the break and the introduction of Jakub Jankto and Michael Krmencik had an immediate impact.
Krmencik pricked Schmeichel’s palms before the Leicester keeper was forced to deflect Antonin Barak’s shot.
But Denmark ignored their warning as Schick latched onto Vladimir Coufal’s cross to join Cristiano Ronaldo as the tournament’s top scorer.
The Czech momentum quickly ran out of steam, with both sides visibly jaded by their long journey east and the scorching heat.
Vaclik kept his side in the game with a series of saves to twice turn down substitute Yussuf Poulsen and then head-to-head Maehle.
However, with Schick constrained by muscle tension, Silhavy’s men lacked a goal threat to trouble Denmark for six minutes of stoppage time.