Euro 2020: Day 23
Baku played host for the final time as the third quarter final of the competition got underway with Denmark facing off against the Czech Republic, both previous winners of the European Championship, Denmark in 1992 and the Czech Republic (as Czechoslovakia) back in 1976. The pair are no strangers to each other either, having met twice previously in this competition, the Czech Republic coming out on top on both occassions prior to this evening. Denmark unsurprisingly named an unchanged side from that which thrashed Wales 4-0, with Dolberg once again leading the line despite Poulsen now being fit again.
The Czech Republic welcomed back Jan Bořil in defence after his suspension, with the in form Patrick Schick once again leading the line as they aimed to reach the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since 2004, the striker currently on 4 goals in the tournament and 15 in 30 appearances for his country, an impressive return from the 25 year old. Denmark took the lead just 5 minutes in, after being wrongly awarded a corner, Thomas Delaney being left completely unmarked on the penalty spot to head home unchallenged, the Dortmund midfielder heading the ball down and low into the bottom corner, an extremely poor goal to concede from a Czech perspective.
Schick had his first chance 11 minutes in, cutting inside from the edge of the area to get a shot away, earning the Czech Republic their first corner, which was well dealt with, launching Denmark into another counter attack, Damsgaard getting behind the defence but lacking conviction with his shot as the keeper came out, allowing the clearance. Delaney then had a chance to add to his tally as he was again picked out in the middle, but he failed to make a clean connection with the ball, his shot firing wide of the target as a result with the Czech defence once again opened up.
A poor clearance from Schmeichel then allowed Masopust to slip in Holeš, but the Leicester keeper atoned for his error with a smart low block to prevent the goal. The game continued to swing end to end, both sides finding space and opportunities, but both defences also standing firm when needed, as the first half became a bit sloppier after the energetic opening. Damsgaard forced another save after finding space down the right hand side as the first half entered the closing stages.
Denmark did double their lead just before half time, an absolutely outstanding ball from Joakim Mæhle with the outside of his right boot evading Braithwaite but being met with a superbly cushioned side footed volley at the far post by Kasper Dolberg, who made no mistake from close range, Vaclik having no chance.
The Czech Republic made 2 changes at the break, and they made an immediate impact, Schmeichel twice having to be alert to deny shots from range, before a defensive block denied Schick on the overhead. The in-form striker Patrik Schick did get his goal moments later though, the ball breaking down the right, Vladimir Coufal swinging one into the box to pick out Schick, who produced a comfortable side foot finish into the bottom left hand corner to bring his side back into the tie.
Denmark made a few changes of their own, Poulsen returning to the action in the place of goalscorer Dolberg, and it was him who was next to test Vaclik, breaking from inside his own half and with no other options on, he looked to shoot, but the Czech keeper made a comfortable save in the end. At the other end, Jankto saw his shot blocked by Kjaer, the clearance from the defender going over the bar to the relief of Schmeichel.
The keeper then had to be at his best to tip away a free kick with Soucek lurking behind him at the far post ready to head home, as the Czech Republic continued to pose more attacking threat in the second half. Poulsen was again offering the best option for Denmark, and he forced Vaclik into action with a curled effort from the edge of the box, the keeper getting both hands on the ball to send behind for a corner in a rare foray forward from the Danes.
Vaclik then denied Mæhle from an acute angle, the Danish winger chosing the wrong option with the shot though after Braithwaite had pulled away into space, the corner eventually being dealt with as the game entered the final 10 minutes, the Czech’s hoping they’d get at least one more big chance to take the game into extra time. There was to be nothing more than speculative punts into the box or shots from distance though as Denmark stood firm to ensure their place in the semi-final at Wembley next week, superb for a team who had so much to deal with in their opening game while also then going on to lose their second fixture of the group stages before beginning the turnaround.
England and Ukraine squared off in the final quarter final in Rome looking to book that place to face Denmark, England facing the prospect of returning to their home camp should they be victorious, while another road trip would await the Ukraine, one of the most travelled teams, should they get the result in the Stadio Olimpico. Gareth Southgate sprung a surprise in his staring line up as he brought in Jadon Sancho for his first start of the tournament, the winger set to sign for Manchester United after the competition ends, with Mount also returning after his enforced quarantine. There were also several familiar faces in the starting XI for the Ukraine, with Manchester City man Oleksandr Zinchenko hoping to get the better of his club colleagues, while West Ham forward Andriy Yarmolenko was also passed fit to start after picking up a slight injury concern in their victory over Sweden.
England enjoyed a dream start as they took the lead after just 4 minutes, and it was the two scorers in the tournament so far who combined to give them the lead. Raheem Sterling carried the ball inside before an incisive pass picked out the run of Harry Kane, the Spurs striker making no mistake as he slid in to score in his second successive game with the keeper rushing out trying to close down the angle.
A short pass from Kyle Walker allowed Ukraine their first chance, Yaremchuk picking up the loose ball and getting the run on John Stones, his shot from the left hand side of the area being parried wide by Jordan Pickford as England were opened up for the first time, a needless mistake as much a sign of their dominance in possession as anything else as the passing became a little too comfortable.
After a bit of a lull, England picked up the intensity again and Bushchan had to be alert to get both hands behind a long range drive from Declan Rice, the West Ham midfielder getting plenty of power behind his effort from the edge of the area, before two Ukraine players then went down requiring treatment, a possible after-effect from their exertions the other day in Scotland, leading Shevchenko into an early change he would have wanted to avoid making in the humid conditions.
Sancho then had a great chance to seal his return to the squad, turning in the area to create the space but firing straight at the keeper. The flag went up, but replays suggest it would have stood as he was onside when the ball was played, a big chance to double the lead 5 minutes before half-time not taken by England. Miss-communication between Walker and Pickford almost let Ukraine back in, before Shaparenko then flashed one wide from range as Ukraine seemed to have a renewed belief after their change in formation following the substitution. Sterling created more problems, having switched to the right, thinking he’d won a corner in the final minutes of the first half, but the referee over-ruled the linesman, denying an opportunity to add to their lead, taking a 1-0 advantage into the break.
England repeated their early goal antics in the second half, this time scoring just a minute into the second period. Kane won a free kick on the left, and Luke Shaw stepped up to swing in a ball, where club colleague Harry Maguire was on the end to head into the corner of the net with Bushchan still rooted to the spot and the whole Ukraine team looking shell-shocked to concede so early again.
With Ukraine still picking themselves back up, England added a third, again coming down the left hand side. Sterling showed great awareness to use Luke Shaw on the overlap with a smart touch, and another superb delivery by the Manchester United left back found England skipper Harry Kane in the middle for his second goal of the game and third of the competition, giving England real control in the tie.
It was almost four on the hour, a half clearance dropping to Kane on the volley and the striker forcing a save from Bushchan at the expense of a corner. The reprieve was short lived, however, when the delivery in from Mount picked out an unmarked Jordan Henderson, who had only just come on to replace Declan Rice, with another free header inside the box, the midfielder making no mistake to claim his first ever goal for his country and put the result to bed.
The fourth goal proved the killer as far as the tie went, both sides enjoying large chunks of possession in the closing stages but neither able to do anything with it, England happy to just knock the ball around and frustrate the opposition, while Ukraine were unable to find any gaps to exploit in a well marshalled England team, despite the flurry of substitutions and some erratic kicking from Jordan Pickford. England will now return “home” to Wembley for a semi-final showdown with Denmark on Wednesday evening, a tie that will capture the nation with a real chance of making progress into their first major final since 1966.
Over in Brazil, the Copa America also confirmed their semi-final line-up with 2 more games to see who would join Peru and Brazil in the semi-finals. The first saw Uruguay crash out 4-2 on penalties to Colombia after neither side were able to break the deadlock during normal time, while Argentina brushed aside Ecuador 3-0, Leo Messi adding another goal to his collection and Ecuador being reduced to 10 men in stoppage time of a match the Argentines dominated. Brazil will now face Peru on Tuesday, with Argentina taking on Colombia Wednesday for a place in the final.Share this: