Football: Denmark hold off Czech rally to keep Euro 2020 dream alive

Denmark players celebrate after the match.
Denmark players celebrate after the match.PHOTO: REUTERS

BAKU (AFP) - Denmark are flying on the “wings” of support back home, said coach Kasper Hjulmand after their fairytale run at Euro 2020 continued with a 2-1 quarter-final win over the Czech Republic in Baku.

First-half goals from Thomas Delaney and Kasper Dolberg were enough to see Hjulmand’s men through into a last-four meeting with England or Ukraine at Wembley despite a second-half rally from the Czechs 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 defeats, the first amid shocking circumstances when Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch.

“We won some games comfortably, 4-1 and 4-0, but this is also a way of winning a football game,” said Hjulmand.

“I’m very proud to be in the semi-finals with this team.

“The wings people gave us is very important. We are very proud to give something back to Denmark and the people watching from home.”

Three weeks on from Eriksen’s collapse, Denmark are dreaming of a repeat of 1992 when they won the European Championship despite not even qualifying.

Then Yugoslavia’s expulsion due to an outbreak of war gave the Danes a second chance and they are playing like a side 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 fitted in his chest, but on the field Denmark have survived the loss of their star man for the past decade.

“He’s still a big part of this team and a big part of our road to Wembley,” added Hjulmand on Eriksen.

“That team is not something we built overnight, he has been part of the team for a very long time.

“I wish he was here. I’m sending a lot of greetings to him and he’s a big part of this result.”


After playing all three group games in Copenhagen and in front of thousands of travelling Danish fans in Amsterdam in a 4-0 thrashing of Wales last weekend, only a small pocket of supporters could make the 4,000km trip to Azerbaijan.

Those that did make it were celebrating within five minutes as Delaney was left completely unmarked to head home Jens Stryger Larsen’s corner.

Denmark then sat back but were always a threat on the break and Tomas Vaclik twice had to stand up to deny Mikkel Damsgaard.

Denmark's forward Kasper Dolberg (centre) celebrates scoring their second goal. PHOTO: AFP

Vaclik was powerless three minutes before half-time when Joakim Maehle added another assist to his fine tournament with a teasing cross with the outside of his right foot that Dolberg smashed home from close range.

Czech boss Jaroslav Silhavy made two substitutions at the break and the introduction of Jakub Jankto and Michael Krmencik made an instant impact.

Schick latched onto Vladimir Coufal’s cross to join Cristiano Ronaldo as the tournament’s top goalscorer.

The Czechs’ momentum soon fizzled out with both sides visibly jaded by their long journey east and the searing heat.

Denmark's Jannik Vestergaard celebrates after the match. PHOTO: REUTERS

Czech Republic defender Tomas Kalas reacts after losing the quarter-final match. PHOTO: AFP

“You could see how exhausted they were and I think we can all be proud of them,” said Silhavy.

“We are disappointed. There were some tears (in the dressing room). We were in the bubble for a long time, it was not easy but I think we managed something we can be proud of.

“The fans must also appreciate our great performance.”

Vaclik kept his side in the game with a string of saves to twice deny substitute Yussuf Poulsen and then Maehle when one-on-one.

However, with Schick forced off by a muscle strain, Silhavy’s men lacked the goal threat to trouble Denmark through six minutes of stoppage time.