Antelope Valley Press

England beats Denmark 2-1 in extra time to reach Euro final

- By STEVE DOUGLAS

LONDON — England has broken through its semifinal ceiling at major soccer tournament­s. A title match awaits for the first time in 55 years.

Harry Kane converted the rebound after his initial penalty was saved in the 104th minute to give England a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Denmark in extra time in the European Championsh­ip semifinals on Wednesday at Wembley Stadium.

England will return to its national soccer stadium on Sunday to play Italy and will be competing in its first final since the 1966 World Cup. That remains England’s only internatio­nal title.

In the intervenin­g decades, the English have lost in the semifinals four times in either the World Cup or the European Championsh­ip. For that reason, this will go down as one of the most significan­t feats in the national team’s history, something England greats David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker never achieved.

“We dug deep and we got there when it mattered,” Kane said. “We’re in a final at home. What a feeling.”

After the final whistle, Kane led the jubilant England fans in a crowd of more than 60,000 — the biggest gathering for a sporting event in Britain since the coronaviru­s outbreak nearly 16 months ago — in a rendition of “Sweet Caroline.”

The players and management walked around the perimeter of the field, waving to fans and then their loved ones. England coach Gareth Southgate was serenaded with a song, and he might have appreciate­d this win more than anyone.

Two of those semifinals losses — in 1990 and 1996 — were decided via a penalty shootout, with Southgate missing a crucial kick in one of them against Germany. And a shootout looked like where England and Denmark were headed until Raheem Sterling wriggled into the area down the right, cut inside and fell under the challenge of Mattias Jensen.

The contact looked minimal, and a video review was needed. After a brief wait that must have felt longer to England’s fans, the decision stood.

Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel guessed the right way to block Kane’s penalty but the ball came back to the England captain, who reacted quickly to put it into the net from six yards out.

“I was fortunate to have it bounce back,” Kane said. “That’s football — sometimes it falls your way.”

Denmark’s players, whose emotionall­y charged run to the semifinals was powered by a resolve to win the title for Christian Eriksen after the midfielder’s collapse on the field during the group stage, were almost on their knees by that point.

And Danish hopes of an equalizer were damaged by having to play with only 10 men for the second half of extra time after Jensen was forced off injured. Denmark had already used up its six substitute­s by then.

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand’s biggest grievance was with the awarding of the penalty.

 ?? Associated Press ?? PENALTY KICK England’s Harry Kane, right, reacts after scoring his team’s second goal during the Euro 2020 championsh­ip semifinal between England and Denmark at Wembley stadium in London on Wednesday.
Associated Press PENALTY KICK England’s Harry Kane, right, reacts after scoring his team’s second goal during the Euro 2020 championsh­ip semifinal between England and Denmark at Wembley stadium in London on Wednesday.

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