Denmark’s gamers gathered in a circle on the sphere on the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen and stared intently at a workers member’s telephone. They will need to have recognized, by then, that they’d certified for the final 16 of the European Championship, however they wished to make sure. They wished to see the rating confirmed, officially.
The Danes had come into their closing group-stage recreation on Monday needing the cube to roll of their favor to make it by means of. They required a win towards Russia on house soil, and for Belgium to beat Finland in St. Petersburg. That they’d an opportunity in any respect, although — that their coach, Kasper Hjulmand, may inform his gamers that this was the beginning, not the tip, of their match — was outstanding in itself.
It’s not but 10 days since Hjulmand admitted that his gamers had been “damaged,” traumatized by the expertise of seeing their pal and teammate Christian Eriksen collapse on the sphere throughout their opening recreation towards Finland, pressured to face guard round him as his coronary heart was restarted as he lay immobile on the turf, and to accompany him from the sphere as he was taken to a hospital.
They needed to consolation his distraught companion, after which endure probably the most agonizing wait to find if he was out of hazard. Soccer’s place within the pecking order was illustrated by the squad’s insistence it might not resolve whether or not that recreation would proceed or not till the gamers had phrase about Eriksen’s well being.
Solely after they had been advised that he was aware and talking on the hospital did they press on, enjoying the sport the identical night as a result of — as Hjulmand mentioned — they may not bear to face an evening of sleepless fear after which have to begin once more the following day. They performed, and misplaced. A couple of days later, in entrance of an emotional crowd of about 25,000 followers at Parken, they performed and misplaced once more, this time to Belgium.
That was hardly stunning. Hjulmand had mentioned that counseling could be out there to all of his squad, ought to they really feel the necessity, however it might take a while for that to have an effect. This was not the type of blow you shake off in time for the following recreation.
Nonetheless, Denmark had yet one more probability. It had taken the lead, by means of Eriksen’s substitute, Mikkel Damsgaard, and doubled it by means of Yussuf Poulsen, however Finland was nonetheless stubbornly holding on in St. Petersburg. After which a roar swept round Parken: Information had filtered throughout the Baltic that Belgium had scored. Solely, because it turned out, the aim was dominated out — after a brief delay — for offside.
As Denmark was absorbing that blow, Russia gained — and transformed — a penalty kick. All the things hung within the steadiness as soon as extra. Once more, Denmark was made to attend.
A couple of minutes later, there was one other roar from the stands, this one just a little extra reticent. This time Belgium had taken the lead. This time the aim counted. Denmark may loosen up. When Andreas Christensen scored a 3rd, and Joakim Maehle a fourth, the staff and the stadium and the nation may have fun. Maehle ran to the group, holding up the numbers 1 and 0 together with his fingers: Eriksen’s jersey quantity.
“I’ve by no means skilled something like this,” Maehle advised the Danish broadcaster DR.
Denmark’s prize is a spherical of 16 match on Saturday, towards Wales, in Amsterdam, on the stadium the place Eriksen made his title. It doesn’t matter in any respect, not within the grand scheme of issues, however nonetheless, it means the world.