CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN congratulated his Denmark team-mates after Andreas Christensen’s stunner fired them into the last-16 of Euro 2020 in a thrilling Group B finale.
The Danes erupted into scenes worthy of winning a final after deservedly edging through on goal difference – level on three points with Russia and Finland – after the torment of Christian Eriksen suffering a cardiac arrest in their tournament opener.
⚽ Follow ALL of the latest news and updates from Euro 2020 with our live blog
Andreas Christensen hails his special goal as Denmark overcame the opening-match trauma of Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest to go throughCredit: Reuters
Christian Eriksen celebrated the win on Instagram
Andreas Christensen finished off an almighty scramble by lashing home this cracker when the ball came loose outside of the boxCredit: Getty
Denmark go wild after Andreas Christensen’s thumper as they reach the last 16Credit: AFP
They will now face Wales in Amsterdam on Saturday evening.
Sampdoria winger Mikkel Damsgaard slammed Denmark’s superb opener on 38 minutes in a rapt Copenhagen stadium.
That made Damsgaard Denmark’s youngest scorer at a major tournament – at 20 years and 353 days.
And at such an event he is the first Dane since Euro 2004 to net from outside the box.
Russia got on top after the break.
But Fedor Kudryashov and Denmark’s Tottenham midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg needed lengthy treatment for a clash of heads.
Denmark seemed to have made victory certain on 59 minutes, courtesy of Roman Zobnin’s horrendous blind backpass back into his box.
Yussuf Poulsen strode on to slide home with his first touch.
But Jannik Vestergaard was penalised 11 minutes later for manhandling in the box, VAR confirming a penalty that Artem Dzyuba coolly slotted home down the middle.
Christensen, though, thumped a 25-yarder stunner when the ball fell loose after a massive scramble to put Denmark 3-1 up.
Yussuf Poulsen celebrates his goal with Denmark team-mate Martin BraithwaiteCredit: Reuters
And with Russia now ragged at the back, Joakim Maehle slotted the Danes’ counter-attacking fourth goal.
Finland would have gone through with a point in the simultaneous match against Belgium.
But an own goal from Finnish keeper Lukas Hradecky on 74 minutes broke their resistance, before Romelu Lukaku sealed the Belgians’ 2-0 win and 100 pert cent group record.
Denmark waited patiently at the end until news of Belgium’s victory became official.
Christian Eriksen’s life was saved by the fast reactions of team-mates and medics
Yussuf Poulsen pounces on Roman Zobnin’s blunder to put Denmark 2-1 upCredit: Reuters
Denmark’s Mikkel Damsgaard celebrates with team-mate Martin Braithwaite after his 38th minute openerCredit: Getty
Mikkel Damsgaard hits the sweet opener for Denmark against RussiaCredit: Reuters
Then they let loose the type of emotion perhaps they alone, of all the Euro teams, can fully appreciate, given the trauma of seeing stalwart midfielder Eriksen’s collapse in the 1-0 defeat against Finland nine days ago.
And the Danes huddled round to make a phone call – surely involving the Inter Milan superstar in his hospital bed.
One of those moments when sport and humanity collide unforgettably. When a game, and THE game, mean so much and so little at the same time.
Russia look on in vain as Mikkel Damsgaard arrows the ball into the top cornerCredit: AP
Russia’s Fyodor Kudryashov receives treatment after his collision with Pierre-Emile HojbjergCredit: Reuters
Russia’s Artem Dzyuba halves the deficit with this penalty on 70 minutesCredit: AP
⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds