De Ligt had goosebumps when Eriksen made Denmark return

By Sports Desk March 27, 2022

Matthijs de Ligt said he "got goosebumps" when Christian Eriksen took to the pitch during Saturday's friendly between the Netherlands and Denmark.

Eriksen had not played for his country since suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch in Copenhagen during Euro 2020 last year.

Yet the former Tottenham and Inter playmaker, who is now back in action with Brentford, returned after a 287-day absence and scored with his very first touch just 114 seconds after coming on as a substitute.

Eriksen, fittingly playing at the stadium where he made his name for Ajax, almost netted a second when a long-range shot hit the woodwork but, with his goal having reduced the arrears to 3-2, it was the hosts who went on to edge out a thrilling contest 4-2 at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

 

For Dutch centre-back De Ligt, however, playing against the 30-year-old was difficult. Nevertheless, the Juventus defender is thrilled to see the Dane back.

"It's not easy to tackle Eriksen, when he came on the pitch I had the skin go... I got goosebumps," De Ligt told reporters.

"We are players but also human beings, in those moments you have to think about playing, but it's clear that we are all happy that he is back playing at this level."

Eriksen did not create a chance for Kasper Hjulmand's side, but did put in a joint team-high three crosses (all from set-pieces) and completed 31 of his 36 attempted passes.

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    Neymar was back in the starting XI for Monday's World Cup last-16 win over South Korea at Stadium 974 after injuring ankle ligaments on matchday one.

    His participation for the rest of the tournament had been in doubt, but he returned and played a key role in the comfortable 4-1 victory, scoring a penalty that took him to within one goal of Pele's all-time record of 77.

    Brazil were irresistible at times in the first half and Neymar was generally at the centre of their most promising attacks, even if he did not necessarily record an assist.

    Before Monday, Brazil's performances had been functional if not spectacular, but Neymar's return was important for the fluidity of the rest of the team.

    "He's a technical reference. This is technical leadership. When a team looks for the player, they know that they have a weapon there, [someone who can make] the difference," Tite said of the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

    "Everyone has their own striking characteristics, but Neymar is the centre, the one who empowers the others."

    With his early spot-kick, Neymar became the third Brazil player to score at three editions of the World Cup (2014, 2018 and 2022) after Pele and Ronaldo.

    He also created two chances and stepped over the ball before Vinicius Junior coolly opened the scoring in the seventh minute, while only Casemiro and Raphinha – two players who finished the game – managed more than Neymar's 17 passes in the final third, highlighting his involvement in the Selecao's attacks.

    Tite's assistant, Cesar Sampaio, believes having Neymar back also provides a mental boost to his team-mates on top of his technical excellence.

    "Neymar for sure provides a competitive advantage, he makes a difference on pitch," he said.

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    Brazil's victory set up a quarter-final clash with Croatia on Friday after Zlatko Dalic's men defeated Japan 3-1 on penalties following a 1-1 draw earlier in the day.

  • Bengals can afford to start dreaming of repeat run after latest Chiefs upset Bengals can afford to start dreaming of repeat run after latest Chiefs upset

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    Burrow ended the game with a completion percentage of 80.6, over five per cent higher than his expected completion percentage of 75.4.

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