International

Euro 2020: Christensen hits net hard as Denmark go through

Andreas Christensen scored a superb goal on a night of triumph for Denmark who finish second in their group, despite having lost their first two Euro 2020 fixtures.

It means the Danes are added to group-winners Belgium in the last-16 and it has a knock-on effect meaning England and France join them too. 

The situation was complex in Group B before kick-off in the final group games on Monday night, and with the Danes, Finland and Russia all in with a chance of joining already-qualified Belgium in the knockout stages, but with uncertainty over whether a third-place finish would be enough, the situation changed for Denmark several times during the second half of their match against Russia.

A strong finish to the game however was rewarded with a 4-1 win, with Christensen smashing in the third of those goals, and with Finland losing 2-0 to Belgium in the other game, second place and guaranteed qualification was Denmark’s.

Once again playing in their home stadium in Copenhagen, the emotion in light of Christian Eriksen’s collapse in the first game was clear, and having lost their first two matches, a draw was of no use to Denmark but for most of the first half, it was hard to see where a goal would come from.

Christensen, a fixture in the Danes’ team in this tournament so far, was secure at the back, as were his colleagues in defence for most of the game, although they were opened up 20 minutes in by Aleksandr Golovin. His shot was too close to Kasper Schmeichel to open the scoring for Russia from what was their best chance before the interval.

As the half progressed, Denmark improved and a Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg shot whistled past the post. That was followed by a good move with Christensen involved twice but when wing-back Joakim Maehle crossed, no one could make the most of it.

Instead it was an outstanding strike from outside the box that gave them a first-half lead, the scorer Sampdoria’s Mikkel Damsgaard, the man who came into the side for the second game in the absence of Eriksen.

Denmark knew goal difference could be important depending on the other result and they were handed a second goal on 59 minutes by an absolute gift of a back pass. It was so badly directed it not only found Danish striker Yussuf Poulsen, it also took the Russian keeper out of the equation so Poulsen could guide it into an empty net.

At that point, Finland were drawing 0-0 and were still set to finish second in the group but that appeared to change with Belgium scoring through Romelu Lukaku, only for a late VAR check to rule it out for offside.

Suddenly it was getting worse and worse for the Danes as Russian pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, but then Belgium did go ahead with 15 minutes of both games remaining. Thomas Vermaelen’s header went in via the post and then the Finland keeper.

Leading 2-1, the Danes were now in second place but they needed a cushion and it was given to them by Christensen. He had a header from a corner saved but the pressure stayed on and although the Russian goalie made a double save, the ball came back to the Chelsea man who fired it home with the sweetest of strikes from outside the area. It is his second international goal.

Instead it was an outstanding strike from outside the box that gave them a first-half lead, the scorer Sampdoria’s Mikkel Damsgaard, the man who came into the side for the second game in the absence of Eriksen.

Denmark knew goal difference could be important depending on the other result and they were handed a second goal on 59 minutes by an absolute gift of a back pass. It was so badly directed it not only found Danish striker Yussuf Poulsen, it also took the Russian keeper out of the equation so Poulsen could guide it into an empty net.

At that point, Finland were drawing 0-0 and were still set to finish second in the group but that appeared to change with Belgium scoring through Romelu Lukaku, only for a late VAR check to rule it out for offside.

Suddenly it was getting worse and worse for the Danes as Russian pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, but then Belgium did go ahead with 15 minutes of both games remaining. Thomas Vermaelen’s header went in via the post and then the Finland keeper.

Leading 2-1, the Danes were now in second place but they needed a cushion and it was given to them by Christensen. He had a header from a corner saved but the pressure stayed on and although the Russian goalie made a double save, the ball came back to the Chelsea man who fired it home with the sweetest of strikes from outside the area. It is his second international goal. He was also awarded UEFA's Star of the Match.

Maehle completed the scoring to make it 4-1 from a counter-attack just as Lukaku was adding Belgium’s second goal against Finland. In that game Michy Batshuayi came on for the final 15 minutes for his first action of Euro 2020.

Belgium with three wins out of three take top spot in the group and will play one of the third-finishing sides in the Round of 16 stage.

Denmark face Wales in Amsterdam on Saturday. Third-place Finland must wait to see if they make it through. 

Monday’s results also mean England and France have qualified for the knockout phase ahead of their third games. Four of the best third-placed teams progress and England and France's four-point totals so far now guarantees them to be among those at the minimum, regardless of their next results.
 

MORE FROM CHELSEA