Gareth Southgate’s side had to come back from behind to win and, as the game entered extra time, a contentious penalty decided the game.
Raheem Sterling fell into the box under pressure from a melee of Danish players and, after referee Danny Makkelie awarded the penalty, the decision was upheld by VAR.
For England, the draw bore a resemblance to their last semi-final at a European Championship, against Germany in 1996. This too was played in front of a crowded Wembley stadium, but the tie was drawn. ‘ended under very different circumstances.
Southgate was the man to miss the decisive penalty that night but, 25 years later, the 50-year-old guided his country to their first European Championship final.
While the Italian side appeared imperious at Euro 2020, England are hopeful that home support at Wembley can inspire them to a historic victory on Sunday.
Crowds flock to Wembley
The UK government has allowed 60,000 fans to assemble in Wembley Stadium for the semi-finals, and those lucky enough to get their hands on tickets for Wednesday’s game experienced an atmosphere like no other.
Unsurprisingly, English fans were in the majority, singing and dancing along Wembley Way – the famous road that leads to the ground – before creating a party atmosphere inside the stadium as the sound of “Sweet Caroline” swirled around. of the cavernous place.
While supporters of the Denmark team were in the minority, they certainly made their presence known, with one end of the stadium littered with Danish flags.
A wall of noise and a sense of nervousness and anticipation was greeted as the players exited the tunnel. After being locked in the middle of the Covid-19 restrictions, it felt like a huge wave of emotions, reverberating through Wembley.
“The whole feel-good factor is about to burst into pure joy,” an England fan told CNN as he walked to the stadium with his son.
“I think everyone has just had that pent-up emotion over the last year. It’s a time where the end is in sight… I think we’re on that crest of the wave that I hope we’re not. will never break. “
In those opening minutes, England in particular seemed inspired by this support.
After a manic start, the game calmed down with Denmark sitting back and England making the bulk of the attack. Sterling had a few half-chances as the home support roared at the Men in White.
All of England’s good work at the start was almost undone by a moment of madness from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
After a routine stoppage and without any pressure, his weak throw was easily intercepted, but Denmark just couldn’t work a space to shoot into what would have been an empty net.
After that, the Danes grew in the game and took the lead thanks to a magic free kick from Damsgaard at the half hour. The set-piece was almost perfect, whipped over the wall and giving Pickford no chance to save him.
The goal, the first England have conceded in this tournament, calmed the crowd – but only temporarily.
England were galvanized and moments after Sterling was denied the equalizer by a magnificent save from Schmeichel, Bukayo Saka’s cross was accidentally returned by defender Kjaer. In truth, Sterling was expecting a tap-in if Kjaer hadn’t deflected the ball into the net.
The second half started off as the first with England chasing a goal. Harry Maguire almost found the net with a header but Schmeichel was still there to push the effort towards safety.
Clear chances were scarce then as nerves seemed to gain the upper hand in this second period, with extra time needed to separate the sides.
English pressure only intensified after the break as they continued to hit the defenders’ red wall. Kane had a well saved effort before Jack Grealish’s shot stung the goalie’s palms.
Then came the pivotal moment when Sterling fell under pressure into the box. The contact was minimal but sufficient, according to the referee.
Kane, usually so assured on the spot, managed to save his first attempt but sent a country delirious by stabbing the rebound.
For Denmark, who won Euro 92, it was an extraordinary tournament.
The team and the nation were shaken when his talisman Eriksen collapsed on the pitch in his first group game against Finland.
The power, strength and resilience the Danish players displayed in Eriksen’s recovery will inevitably define this tournament and both teams paid tribute to the playmaker ahead of the semi-final.
England captain Kane gave Denmark an Eriksen shirt signed by all players ahead of kick-off, a gesture applauded by both groups of supporters.
Then the Southgate team got down to the task of trying to make history. The country felt like they needed, almost expected, a win on Wednesday after so many years of disappointment and they finally got their wish.
Italy are awaiting and are expected to present England with their toughest test yet at Euro 2020.
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