Phantom Corner Helps Denmark Continue Feel-Good Run Through Euro 2020
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Given everything that has happened to Denmark during Euro 2020, only Czech Republic supporters will complain about a crucial call that went against them early in their quarterfinal match. Denmark was bafflingly awarded a corner in the opening minutes, setting up Thomas Delaney’s fifth-minute goal that sent the Danes on the way to a 2-1 win on Saturday in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Denmark became the neutral’s favorite when Christian Eriksen suffered cardiac arrest during an opening group-stage match against Finland on June 12. Forced to play on later that day despite the harrowing event, Denmark lost to Finland and needed a dramatic 4-1 win allowed the Danes to sneak into the knockout rounds. Buoyed by Eriksen beginning to recover, Denmark demolished Wales 4-0 in the Round of 16.
Facing the Czech Republic, the lowest-ranked side to ever reach a Euro quarterfinal, the Danes received a bit of fortune early on. A ball that appeared to be a clear goal kick was given as a corner kick. Delaney capitalized with a strong header, completely shifting the game’s dynamic.
Thomas Delaney Goal vs Czech Republic
With the early lead, Denmark was able to focus on defending first, counterattacking when necessary.
Down a goal searching for the equalizer, the Czechs pushed higher and higher up the pitch. The result was space for Joakim Mæhle to get in behind to curl a trivela cross to Kasper Dolberg to tap home for a 2-0 lead before halftime. Some goals are all about the finish; this goal was all about the pass, which was more impressive than most of the goals scored scored at Euro 2020.
The Czechs controlled 55 percent possession in the match and outshot Denmark on the day, but the early goal proved too much to overcome.
Patrik Schick pulled the Czechs one back in the 49th minute with a well-placed redirection, setting the stage for a final 40 minutes of pressure on the Danish defense.
Kasper Schmeichel, Simon Kjær and the Denmark defense held firm to retain the lead and move on to the semifinals of a major tournament for the first time since winning Euro 1992 under similarly remarkable circumstances (the Danes were a late replacement team after Yugoslavia pulled out).
Denmark now faces either England or Ukraine in the semifinals on Wednesday, one win away from an unlikely final.