Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp paid tribute to Simon Kjaer ahead of Wednesday's clash with Milan, saluting the defender for his composure and humanity in response to Christian Eriksen collapsing at Euro 2020.

Eriksen collapsed during Denmark's European Championship opener against Finland in June, with Kjaer the first on the scene to place his team-mate in the recovery position before leading the rest of the team in the formation of a protective shield around the Inter man as he received treatment.

The 29-year-old midfielder was subsequently taken to hospital and it was later confirmed he had suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch, but medics were able to resuscitate him.

Eriksen was fitted with a pacemaker before returning home, though it remains unclear if he will ever play again.

Kjaer received widespread praise for his quick-thinking at such a crucial juncture, with he and the eight medics involved hailed the "true heroes of Euro 2020" and presented with the 2021 UEFA President's Award by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin last month.

Kjaer is expected to be in the Milan team that will play the club's first Champions League match in seven-and-a-half years at Anfield, and Klopp hopes Liverpool fans recognise the defender's exploits.

"I am usually more keen to focus on my own players rather than an opponent, but tonight I must make an exception," Klopp wrote in his programme notes.

"This evening it is possible that Simon Kjaer will line up against us and this is a person who I think has the respect of the entire football and sporting world.

"You recognise true leadership in a crisis. I think the world acknowledges this now more than ever with everything that goes on around us.

"Like millions of others, I was rocked by the scenes that unfolded at the European Championship in the summer when Christian Eriksen fell ill during Denmark's opening group game.

"There were many heroes that night, not least of all the remarkable medical professionals for the Danish national team, in the stadium and subsequently at the hospital. But Simon shone that traumatic day for his own conduct.

"The image of the Danish players shielding their team-mate as he was cared for will, in my opinion, forever be one of the most iconic in sporting history. It showed the best of humanity. Compassion, care and love for their friend.

"Honestly, I have no idea how he managed to not only keep his own composure in that situation, but to have the clarity of mind to make the decisions he did in that moment. His conduct humbles us all.

"I'm told that Simon's dad is an LFC fan – and if that is the case, he must be bursting with pride that his boy is now recognised worldwide as the epitome of our anthem, 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

"I know our supporters are knowledgeable and generous of spirit and therefore I am sure Simon will feel the gratitude of the home crowd tonight, but for the 90-plus minutes of the game he is again the opponent."

Wednesday's contest will be Liverpool's first Champions League match in front of a home crowd since March 11, 2020, when the Reds lost 3-2 to Atletico Madrid after extra-time and were dumped out of the competition at the last-16 stage.

Klopp feels Liverpool were always lacking something in the absence of supporters through the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, but in his opinion that was always exemplified during Champions League games.

"It will be so cool just before kick-off to hear that Champions League anthem and see the players lined up in front of a full Anfield," he continued. "We missed supporters for every second of every game during the pandemic, but I must admit it was most acute on the European nights.

"Let's have all the noise, all the colour, all the positive energy and all the passion and intensity that is our trademark. Let's give this fixture the stage it deserves. I honestly cannot wait."

Wednesday's match will be the first meeting between the two historic clubs that is not a European final, with their only prior clashes being in the Champions League deciders in 2005 and 2007, winning once each.

Jon Dahl Tomasson almost won it all as a player.

A Champions League under iconic Italian boss Carlo Ancelotti at Milan, to go with Serie A, Coppa Italia and Coppa Italia honours. Add the UEFA Cup, Eredivisie and Johan Cruijff Shield during his time with Feyenoord.

Now, Tomasson finds himself at the helm of Swedish giants Malmo, who are embarking on their first Champions League group-stage campaign since 2015-16, after snapping the club's title drought in 2020.

Malmo – the most successful team in Sweden – had not won the Allsvenskan since 2017, however Tomasson delivered the trophy in his first season at Eleda Stadion, an achievement culminating in him being named Manager of the Year.

After ending Malmo's domestic wait last term, Malmo will face holders Chelsea, Italian powerhouses Juventus and Russian giants Zenit in Group H after Tomasson guided the 1978-79 European Cup runners-up through the qualifying rounds as the 45-year-old's coaching career continues to gather momentum.

Tomasson is set to take charge of his first Champions League match as a coach, having appeared as a player 42 times in the competition between 1997 and 2005 for Newcastle, Feyenoord and Milan. His last game came in the 2005 final against Liverpool, scoring one of Milan's two successful penalties in the shoot-out defeat.

"Before we qualified for the Champions League, we're allowed to dream big. Now we're there," Tomasson told Stats Perform, ahead of Malmo's matchday-one showdown at home to Juve on Tuesday.

"In a way, it's a dream which we should live. At the end of the day, we have ambitions as well. We know we play against very good clubs. We're the biggest club in Scandinavia, but it is a lot to do with money. We can't compare to each other. But we beat Rangers and Ludogorets. The other clubs are also very big.

"Hopefully we can upset a few people. We are ambitious and will do our best, being well prepared. We have a great team spirit. In that way, we can achieve some upsets. We have to be realistic also. We will live that fairytale."

"I won the Champions League and UEFA Cup, also lost a Champions League final," said Tomasson, whose Malmo saw off Riga FC and HJK before upstaging Scottish champions Rangers and Bulgarian titleholders Ludogorets en route to the group phase. "But seeing the boys working together, coping with difficult moments in the game. It makes you proud as a coach. I'm really satisfied so far. It gives me satisfaction for sure.

Tomasson's career as a striker was a successful one – the 45-year-old remains Denmark's all-time leading goalscorer (52) alongside Poul Nielsen. Twice named Danish Player of the Year, the former Heerenveen, Newcastle, Feyenoord, Milan, Stuttgart and Villarreal frontman called time on his career 2011.

Tomasson's coaching career officially started at Excelsior as an assistant before a brief stint in charge of the Dutch side, followed by a short spell at Roda JC in the Netherlands.

"Each experience gives you something, whether it is successful or unsuccessful," he said. "As a person and a coach you'll learn from that. It's a part of getting an education down the road and it's an education that will never stop."

However, Tomasson's journey started long before he stopped playing.

"It came quite natural [coaching]," he said. "I had been captain of the Denmark national team for many years. Then you get a bit of responsibility, you start thinking in a different way. You think about the team, it's not just 'me, me, me'. In a way it started quite early, thinking about tactical things.

"I was also a very young boy when I went to Holland and Holland is of course a country which likes to develop young people and football players. I can remember my manager Foppe de Haan, he brought me to games, to analyse games, to develop as a person and football head should develop. I was going with him to games. I was analysing them.

"In a way, I also tried to do a bit of that at Malmo, I was a bit inspired.  All of our youngsters, they are analysing and making presentations for the technical staff so they start to think about football in a different way. Also, to come out of their comfort zone. Make it a bit tough of them to deal with new things."

"I love football, I eat football if it's possible. I had a lot of great coaches during my football career. I had some big coaching names, like Ancelotti, [Manuel] Pellegrini, Bert van Marwijk, Leo Beenhakker. All of those coaches, they give you inspiration," Tomasson continued.

Tomasson, who left boyhood club Koge for Heerenveen in 1994, has been inspired by his journey across Europe.

"I started as a young boy in Holland, so I have a lot of inspiration for the Dutch school," he said. "But I've been in Italy, Spain, Germany and England, so I'm more inspired through an international way of thinking. Football is of course a game, you win it with the head. It's chess on grass.

"Malmo, we want to be dominant with and without the ball. Very flexible with our tactical approach, with different formations and be able to change during games."

Tomasson's Malmo have been dominant under the Dane, who made the short trip across the Oresund Strait after leaving his position as assistant coach of Denmark.

Malmo clinched the league crown by nine points last term and scored a league-high 64 goals in 30 matches – their best return since netting the same amount in 1965.

"When I was working with Denmark for three-and-a-half years, in a way, it was tough to just leave," Tomasson added. "Working with the best players. We were unbeaten for three years also and had great team spirit. It was tough. But the project at Malmo was so ambitious. It was a tough but very easy decision to make because it's a very interesting project. It suits me well.

"It's been very successful but also say surprising but not at all, we tried to plan it. I was appointed to change things, to change the age of the group, to play a more attractive way, dominant with the ball. Get more youngsters into the team and develop those boys and still win something because at Malmo, it's a club with big ambition – one of the biggest in Scandinavia. The biggest at the moment because we're playing in the Champions League. Historically, it's a very big club but didn't win anything for three years, so it was very important to win the league last season. You need to win, qualify for Europe, develop players. Quite ambitious but I like those ambitious.

"We managed to change a lot in a positive way. Develop those youngers, who we need to sell as well. Play a more modern way of football. It's been a perfect journey so far, winning the silverware last season and now qualifying for the Champions League.

"It's a terrific achievement for the club – being among those 32 teams. It's like football heaven, a dream come true. Try to deal with those things coming up. Winning four qualifying rounds before actually going into the Champions League isn't easy. Winning away to Rangers with 10 men and playing against Ludogorets, a team with a totally different budget to us. At the end of the day, money decides a lot of things in football."

As Tomasson's coaching reputation grows in Europe, what does the future hold for the 112-time former international?

"It's okay to dream big, but it's also difficult to plan anything as a manager. I work hard every day to become better. At the moment, I'm looking forward to play this Champions League with Malmo. We also want to win the title like we did last season."

"Every manager has their own path to walk. It's difficult to plan. You can't plan it, so you jump on the train when you need to," he continued.

As a club, previous form is against Malmo – they have lost 83 per cent of their Champions League matches (P12 W2 D0 L10). It is the joint-highest losing percentage of sides to have played at least 10 matches in the competition, alongside Maccabi Tel Aviv and Rapid Vienna.

Malmo have only scored three goals in their last 10 Champions League games, failing to score in eight of the fixtures in this run. Meanwhile, the Swedish side have conceded a total of 34 goals across those 10 matches at an average of 3.4 per game.

But Tomasson's new-look Malmo – who boast 15 players aged 25 or younger in the squad – continue to impress in 2021. Di Blae have only lost one of their past 28 home fixtures in the league, dating back to August 2019, while the Champions League – albeit in the qualifying rounds – they are eight matches unbeaten on home soil.

Antonio Colak has flourished since arriving on loan from PAOK – the Croatian forward scored five of Malmo's 13 goals in qualifying, making him the highest scoring player for any team during the qualification rounds.

The likes of younger pair Veljko Birmancevic (23) and Anel Ahmedhodzic (22) have also starred, developing further under Tomasson's watchful eye.

"He's done well," Tomasson said of new signing Birmancevic, who arrived from Serbian side Cukaricki in the offseason and has scored 11 goals this term, including four in the Champions League qualifying rounds. "The whole team have done an excellent job. He's a young boy. He is coping with a new country and way of playing, with different mentality and manager. But slowly, you can see the progress he has made. A very talented player with special skills and skills we love - goals, one against one, speed. Each team are searching for that quality."

On Bosnia-Herzegovina international centre-back Ahmedhodzic, Tomasson added: "When I arrived here, the first thing I did was put him into the team. He had been on loan in Denmark. Now he is playing for his national team. A great player, a good central defender with a great foot. A player I like. You need to defend as well but also quality on the ball if you want to dominate like I want to."

Simon Kjaer and the medical team who acted rapidly to tend to Christian Eriksen following a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 have been recognised with the 2021 UEFA President's Award.

Eriksen collapsed during Denmark's opener against Finland in June, with Kjaer the first on the scene to place his team-mate in the recovery position before leading his side to form a protective screen while the Inter man received treatment.

The 29-year-old was subsequently taken to hospital, where he was fitted with a pacemaker before returning home, though it remains unclear if he will ever play again, despite visiting Inter's training ground in August.

For Kjaer's exemplary leadership, the centre-back – along with eight medics – have been hailed as the "true heroes of Euro 2020" and presented with the award by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.

"This year, the President’s Award transcends football," Ceferin said.

"It serves as an important and eternal reminder of just how precious life is and puts everything in our lives into the clearest perspective.

"I would also like to send my very best wishes to Christian Eriksen and his family as he continues his recovery."

After Kjaer had performed the initial CPR, the medical team responded quickly, resuscitating Eriksen before taking him off the pitch on a stretcher to rush him to hospital.

"We rushed to the field to help [Christian] and to do our job," said Mogens Kreutzfeldt, chief medical officer for Euro 2020 in Copenhagen.

"We did what we should, what we were taught, what we were trained to do.

"Everybody knew their role, everybody knew what to do.

"We were not emotional at the scene. Afterwards, we were, of course, like everybody. We're very happy and proud of the outcome."

Simon Kjaer insisted he is "not a hero" for his quick-thinking actions to save Christian Eriksen, who collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest in Denmark's Euro 2020 opener.

In concerning scenes in Copenhagen against Finland in June, Eriksen received CPR on the pitch with his team-mates forming a protective screen around him.

The Denmark midfielder has subsequently been fitted with a pacemaker and encouragingly returned to Inter's training ground in August – Eriksen's health being "the only thing that matters" to Kjaer.

Kjaer was one of the first to the scene and prevented Eriksen from swallowing his own tongue as he placed his team-mate into the recovery position.

The centre-back was hailed as a saviour but he told Corriere della Sera: "I'm not a hero, I just did what I had to do, without thinking, like anyone else would.

"Then what happened, happened. I was ready to remain lucid, like all my team-mates. It was a team effort, obviously we would have done the same if he had been an opponent.

"Instinct guided me, and I did what I had to, automatically. It was the first time this happened to me, I hope it’s the last, too.

"That’s all. The only thing that matters is that Christian is fine now. That's the only important thing. I did it without thinking."

It remains unclear if Eriksen will be able to play in Italy again due to the national restrictions on people playing with ICDs – a device connected to the heart to regulate abnormal rhythms.

However, Eriksen could feature in other European countries, as seen by the example of Daley Blind, who still features for Ajax despite an ICD fitting in 2019.

Kjaer's focus remains firmly on Serie A with Milan and, after Stefano Pioli credited the Denmark international as a leader, the Rossoneri fans want the defender to take the armband.

"We already have a captain and his name is [Alessandro] Romagnoli," the 32-year-old responded to questions over the captaincy.

"There is great harmony and sportiness between us. I don't care about the armband. I do my best always and in any case.

"There is harmony, unity [at Milan]. But above all there is a desire to work. Because without work, there is no improvement.

"A team like Milan has the duty to aim for the maximum. This is the only way to grow. I've never won a championship and I'd like to do it with Milan. [It] would be a dream."

The Football Association has received a €30,000 fine due to the behaviour of some fans during England's Euro 2020 semi-final win over Denmark.

England came from behind to beat Denmark 2-1 after extra time and reach their first major tournament final since winning the 1966 World Cup.

Yet the win was partially marred by the conduct of some supporters at Wembley on Wednesday.

The FA was charged by UEFA's Control Ethics and Disciplinary Body for fans booing the Danish national anthem, setting off fireworks and for the use of a laser pointer, which was shined in the face of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel as he prepared to face Harry Kane's extra-time penalty.

Schmeichel saved Kane's spot-kick but the England captain tucked away the decisive goal on the rebound.

Wembley will again host 60,000 fans for the final, with 1,000 supporters from Italy permitted to travel to London for the showpiece.

Italy are in the final of the Euros for the fourth time, with the Azzurri attempting to win the tournament for the first time since 1968.

Jordan Henderson hailed England's powers of recovery but warned there was "one more big push" required after victory over Denmark secured a place in the Euro 2020 final.

The Three Lions conceded their first goal of the tournament half an hour into Wednesday's semi-final, Mikkel Damsgaard thrashing a free-kick beyond Jordan Pickford.

However, they levelled the match up prior to half-time, forcing Simon Kjaer to put through his own net, before going on to secure a 2-1 win through Harry Kane in extra time.

Henderson was delighted with the way in which his team-mates responded to adversity to set up a final meeting with Italy.

"It was a good goal, a fantastic free-kick," he said of the opener. "But I thought the lads reacted really well, sometimes that happens in football. You are going to concede a goal but it is how you react after that and I thought the reaction was good.

"We managed to get ourselves back in the game pretty soon after that, so that was an important period in the game and we came through it well."

 

England's victory over Denmark earned them a first major tournament final appearance since lifting the World Cup in 1966.

But Henderson, a substitute early in extra time, is not content wih the team's achievement so far, and he wants to ensure Gareth Southgate's men clinch the trophy on Sunday.

"It means everything to us as a team and as a nation to be in a final for the first time in a long, long time," he told beIN Sports.

"It is an unbelievable feeling, but at the end of the day we haven't achieved anything yet, we've got to go one more big push to try and win it, recover well and focus on the next job in hand, a tough game against Italy.

"We know how good they are, it is a tough test for us but one that we are confident of going out there and putting in a good performance."

UEFA has charged Euro 2020 finalists England after Kasper Schmeichel had a laser pointer aimed at his face when facing Harry Kane's penalty at Wembley on Wednesday.

England were hit with three charges by the tournament organisers after supporters of Gareth Southgate's team overstepped the mark in the semi-final win over Denmark.

The 2-1 win after extra time at Wembley on Wednesday carried England through to their first major tournament final since the 1966 World Cup.

Amid jubilant scenes, however, there was cause for concern on UEFA's part.

 

Schmeichel managed to save Kane's spot-kick in the 104th minute, defying the laser distraction. He could not prevent the England captain blasting in on the rebound, however.

The England fans' booing of Denmark's national anthem was a distasteful moment, while UEFA has also taken issue with fireworks being set off at the ground.

In a statement, UEFA said: "Disciplinary proceedings have been opened following the UEFA Euro 2020 semi-final match between England and Denmark (2-1), played on July 7 at Wembley Stadium, London."

It listed the charges as: "Use of laser pointer by its supporters; disturbance caused by its supporters during the national anthem; lighting of fireworks by its supporters."

UEFA added: "The case will be dealt with by the UEFA control, ethics and disciplinary body in due course."

Harry Kane says for once it went England's way after scoring the winner in extra-time to book their place at the Euro 2020 final against Italy.

England won 2-1 over Denmark with Kane scoring an 104th-minute winner, firing home the rebound after his penalty was initially saved by Kasper Schmeichel.

The opportunity came after England were forced to come from behind following Mikkel Damsgaard's spectacular 30th-minute free-kick.

England equalised from a Simon Kjaer own goal prior to half-time, before Raheem Sterling won a penalty in extra-time after slight contact from Joakim Maehle.

The win secures England's first appearance at a European Championship final, after a history of inglorious failures and cruel exits at major events, headlined by Gareth Southgate's missed penalty at Euro 96 and Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God' goal at the 1986 World Cup.

"For once it went our way today," Kane told ITV. "Credit to the boys, what a performance.

"We responded really well to going 1-0 down, we controlled the game, dug deep in extra-time, got the penalty, and when it’s your night, it’s your night."

Kane would have felt a moment of panic as his penalty low to Schmeichel's left was saved by the Danish custodian, but the Tottenham forward had the opportunity to lash home from the loose ball.

"I chose the side I was going to go, it wasn't the best penalty I've ever taken," Kane told uefa.com. "Sometimes you miss and it falls your way, and thankfully it did today."

Kane reiterated manager Southgate's sentiment that there was one step to go as England seek to end their continental title wait.

The Three Lions will take on one-time winners Italy in Sunday's final at Wembley Stadium.

"We know it's going to be a very tough game against Italy," Kane said. "We've had a great tournament so far. One more game to go at home, and we can't wait."

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes England's extra-time penalty in Wednesday's 2-1 Euro 2020 semi-final win over Denmark should not have been awarded.

Harry Kane scored England's 104th-minute winner, firing home the rebound after his spot-kick was initially saved by Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Raheem Sterling won the penalty going down on the byline on the right side of the box under pressure from Joakim Maehle.

Sterling claimed post-game it was a "clear penalty" but Wenger - who is now FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development - disagreed, insisting the VAR should have summoned referee Danny Makkelie to look at the replay at least.

"No penalty. In a moment like that, I don’t understand why they [the VAR] didn't ask the referee to have a look at it to be clear," Wenger said on beIN SPORTS.

"In a moment like that it's important the referee is absolutely convinced it was a penalty. It was not clear enough to say 'yes it is'.

"He should've at least had a look at the screen. I don’t know why the VAR didn't ask him to go."

The 71-year-old former Arsenal boss did not go as far as saying the VAR had let down Denmark, labelling them "unfortunate".

"I think the VAR has let the referee down, not Denmark," Wenger said.

"Denmark is a bit unfortunate. It's difficult for the referee but he must have a look at it."

The penalty was the 17th awarded at Euro 2020, with Kane's initial effort becoming the eighth spot-kick missed.

Only 13 penalties were awarded in total in the group stages of the past three European Championships.

Last week, UEFA chief refereeing officer Robert Rosetti attributed VAR for the rise in penalties at this tournament.

England will play Italy in Sunday's Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

Kasper Hjulmand is confident Denmark will triumph at a major tournament after they suffered a semi-final exit to England at Euro 2020.

The Danes – who were rocked by Christian Eriksen's cardiac arrest in their opening game of their campaign – have garnered plenty of support throughout the tournament, but fell short in a 2-1 defeat to Gareth Southgate's team at Wembley on Wednesday.

Harry Kane tucked away a rebound after seeing a penalty, contentiously awarded for a foul on Raheem Sterling, saved by Kasper Schmeichel in extra-time.

It proved too much for Denmark, who took the lead through Mikell Damsgaard's excellent free-kick – the first direct free-kick goal of Euro 2020 – to come back from. Simon Kjaer's own goal, the first Denmark have scored at a European Championship, had dragged England level before half-time.

Though they ultimately fell at the penultimate hurdle, Hjulmand has nothing but pride for his team, and he feels success is just around the corner.

"Obviously, it's a big disappointment that we're so close to the final, and different circumstances during the match mean that we're not taking the last step," he told a news conference.

"It has been amazing what the boys have done. There's a fantastic power within these guys. They play football in a fantastic way.

"We've been attacking, scoring goals and showed our true selves. The players just went on with everything they have – both off and on the pitch.

"We have a team that saved the life of one of our players. I am very happy for our country, we have been a good team, a lot of love and we received support.

"We were emotional, we could have made it to the final, there will be new opportunities, I look to the future with hope. We can be proud of these kids!

"Our only disappointment is not reaching the final. We can achieve great success in a big tournament again."

Wednesday's encounter was the seventh game at Euro 2020 to go to extra-time, with the 1990 and 2014 World Cups the only major tournaments to reach that figure.

Sterling's energy ultimately proved the difference in that period, with the in-form Manchester City forward, who completed 10 dribbles in the game, finding a gap in Denmark's defence before drawing a foul from Joakim Maehle, one of the standout performers of Euro 2020.

The contact appeared to be minimal, but VAR did not overturn the decision from referee Danny Makkelie to award an England penalty.

"It bothers me to know that the penalty was not right," said Hjulmand, whose frustration was evident. "The players put in a lot of effort. We didn’t want to be eliminated like that."

England are through to their first European Championship final after recovering from a goal down to beat Denmark 2-1 after extra-time at Wembley on Wednesday.

Like Tuesday's semi-final between Italy and Spain, which the Azzurri won on penalties, the game in London could not be decided in the 90 minutes.

Mikkel Damsgaard had given Denmark the lead with a fine free-kick on the half-hour mark, but Simon Kjaer put into his own net before half-time and Harry Kane scored England's first extra-time goal since Euro 2004 to send the Three Lions through.

Following another dramatic contest in what has been an entertaining tournament, Stats Perform looks at the key data takeaways from Wednesday's action.

England's clean sheet record ended

Jordan Pickford set a record for the most minutes of any England keeper without conceding, overtaking Gordon Banks' previous best of 720 minutes between May and July 1966, but that impressive defensive streak was ended by Damsgaard soon after.

The Sampdoria winger scored the first direct free-kick of the tournament so far with an impressive effort that caught out Pickford, becoming the youngest Danish goalscorer in Euros knockout history at 21 years and four days.

 

Another own goal scored

In attempting to prevent Bukayo Saka's cross from being turned in by Raheem Sterling under the crossbar, Denmark skipper Kjaer put into his own net for the 11th own goal of Euro 2020 – two more than every other European Championship combined.

That was the first own goal England have benefitted from at the European Championships, but they could not push on and find a winner in normal time as the game went to an additional 30 minutes.

Kane the hero for England

With Denmark tiring and England turning the screw, the pressure told in the 104th minute when Sterling was brought down in the box by Joakim Maehle.

Kane's penalty was saved by Kasper Schmeichel, but the England skipper converted from the follow-up to make it 15 goals scored against the Danish keeper in his senior career – more than he has managed against any other stopper.

With that goal, Kane went level with Gary Lineker as the Three Lions' all-time leading scorer in major tournaments, six of those coming in the 2018 World Cup and the other four at this year's Euros.

 

Three Lions' long wait for a final over

Never before had England recovered from behind to win a Euros knockout match, while not since a 3-2 win over Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals had they done so in any major tournament.

Sunday will mark their first European Championship or World Cup final since 1966, with that 55-year gap the longest between final appearances in the history of the two competitions.

As for Denmark, they are the fifth side to both win three games and lose three games in the same edition of a Euros or World Cup after Yugoslavia (World Cup 1962), Austria (World Cup 1978), Bulgaria (World Cup 1994) and England (World Cup 2018).

 

 

Raheem Sterling claimed there was contact from Denmark's Joakim Maehle before he went to ground to win the decisive penalty in England's 2-1 European Championship semi-final victory.

The decision to award England a penalty after 102 minutes of play at Wembley stood up to a VAR check and Harry Kane had the spot-kick saved before he buried the rebound past Kasper Schmeichel.

Earlier, England had fallen behind to a superb long-range free-kick from Mikkel Damsgaard before Sterling forced an equaliser that went in off Simon Kjaer.

Sterling said he felt the decision to award the penalty in extra time was correct, telling ITV: "I went into the box, he stuck his right leg out and it touched my leg so it's a clear penalty.

"As long as it goes in the back of the net, that's all that matters."

Sterling has scored three times on England's route to the final at Wembley, where they will play Italy on Sunday evening.

The Manchester City forward said the experience of bouncing back after conceding their first goal of the tournament would stand England in good stead against Roberto Mancini's Azzurri.

"It was a top performance," said the 26-year-old. "We had to dig in deep. "It was the first time we conceded but we responded well and showed good spirit.

"We knew it would be difficult. We stayed patient and we knew the legs and aggressiveness we have in the team we'd be okay.

"It's another step in the right direction. We have to focus on the weekend now. It's step-by-step. We know what football means to this country. The energy, the atmosphere...it was top.

"Now we have Italy. We will celebrate a little bit then focus on Italy."

The dark horses fell at the penultimate fence.

Wembley Stadium on Wednesday was one step too far for Denmark. From that awful moment when Christian Eriksen collapsed, through two group defeats, a battering of Russia and Wales and Joakim Maehle's magic against the Czech Republic, Kasper Hjulmand's men have captivated fans at Euro 2020 more than any other side.

Against England, the brutal truth of football took over. Denmark were good, but just not good enough. The standout individual performances, the critical moments, the game management – they belonged to the Three Lions.

Fans should commiserate, of course, but they should celebrate, too, for what their team have produced in these past few weeks.

England had been the most resolute of all sides at these finals. Five games, five clean sheets – their best return at a major tournament. They had not let in a goal since March. Midway through the first half against Denmark, Jordan Pickford broke Gordon Banks' record of 720 minutes without conceding.

It was likely to take something special to break that run. Barely 60 seconds later, it duly arrived.

Mikkel Damsgaard, 21 years old, unleashed a sensational, dipping free-kick from more than 30 yards out that flew past Pickford's despairing grasp. It was the first direct free-kick scored at these finals and the eighth direct goal involvement the Sampdoria man – who is sure to attract interest from across the continent – had managed in seven starts for his country.

Damsgaard served up a moment worthy of the stage, of the exceptional tournament Hjulmand's men have had.

It was unfortunate then to concede an equaliser via captain Simon Kjaer, his desperate lunge to stop Raheem Sterling scoring a tap-in only sending the ball into the unguarded net. Perhaps Schmeichel could have done more to cut out Bukayo Saka's cross, though Sterling would have scored a minute earlier but for a mighty block from the Leicester City goalkeeper.

 

Schmeichel has enjoyed trips to Wembley this year. On May 15, Leicester lifted the FA Cup thanks to two moments of stupendous quality against Chelsea: Youri Tielemans' goal, and Schmeichel's fingertip save from Mason Mount. He repeated the trick here, flying to his right to claw away a Harry Maguire header and stopping Kane's goalbound low strike on the stretch in the second half.

You began to sense that, if penalties came, Schmeichel might prove the hero. When he finally faced one, he did indeed keep it out – but the rebound fell at Kane's feet for the easiest Wembley goal he will ever score. He still made a last-second save to deny Sterling at the end of extra time, as if to remind us of his real quality.

There is never a good way to lose a semi-final, but this 2-1 loss felt cruel on Denmark. England deserved to win the match, that's certainly true, but Schmeichel did not deserve to lose. Captain Kjaer, a hero in the truest sense when Eriksen's life was in danger, should never have been the man to score an own goal in his country's biggest game in 29 years.

When it comes to results, elite football can be a harsh place. But events like these are also about the journey, and Denmark's at these finals has been one to remember.

John Stones extended his arm and held up a palm. Stop. Breathe.

It was time for Jordan Pickford to calm down. No time for bedlam.

The Everton goalkeeper headed into Wednesday's Euro 2020 semi-final encounter with Denmark in superb form, yet to be beaten in the tournament.

In the 27th minute at Wembley, Pickford moved on to 720 minutes without conceding a goal for England, breaking a record set by the great Gordon Banks between May and July 1966. We all know how that tournament ended and how none have ended like it in the 55 years and four semi-final defeats since.

But by the time Pickford pouched that piece of history, events had already started to turn.

After Kalvin Phillips erred to allow a shot from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Pickford frantically sought to launch an attack - his distribution often such a plus for Gareth Southgate. He hurled the ball straight at Mikkel Damsgaard, who understandably seemed a little surprised by that.

A passage of gasping, pulse-quickening mistakes ended with Martin Braithwaite having a shot deflected behind for a corner. England emerged unscathed but robbed entirely of their early poise.

Damsgaard, Braithwaite and Kasper Dolberg were finding pockets of space all across the turf, with England's plan for snuffing out Denmark's lightning breaks apparently amounting to little more than Kyle Walker being terrifyingly fast. He's terrifyingly brilliant, too, but still...

Too much was passing England's defensive midfield block by. Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips did not make a tackle between them in the first half. Tottenham's Hojbjerg, patrolling central areas expertly alongside Thomas Delaney, snapped into five all by himself.

Rice was caught napping by Dolberg, who was brought down by Mason Mount. That's what friends are for.

A relatively unthreatening free-kick became a threatening one as Luke Shaw wrapped his arms around Andreas Christensen defending the initial set-piece. From 30 yards, Damsgaard creamed a delightful strike beyond Pickford, who will think he should have done better.

 

In calmer times, perhaps he would. Then there was further skittishness, prompting centre-back Stones to intervene.

Contrary to Pickford's need to slow down, England's best moments came when they dared Denmark to find a solution to Bukayo Saka's quicksilver pace and Raheem Sterling's restless, relentless, intelligent movement.

Sterling started the game tearing mercilessly after the right-hand side of the Danish defence. He should have done better after cutting inside Christensen and scuffing a shot too close to Kasper Schmeichel.

A scuff would have done the job in the 38th minute, when Sterling met Saka's low cross sweetly and Schmeichel saved improbably. But the seed was planted – more ice-cool work in behind from Saka, more scrambled brains as Sterling made a nuisance of himself, with the result an own goal for skipper Simon Kjaer.

The contest continued in that vein throughout the second half, when whichever side found themselves on the backfoot appeared to be operating in a state of anguish. The occasion simultaneously fuelled its protagonists and threatened to blow up in their faces. Pickford saved sharply from Dolberg, unaware of the offside flag

Into the final 20 minutes of normal time and the highest stakes elite football was operating under park rules: next goal wins. Southgate's team are gloriously unburdened by England's tragicomic history. But no footballer with a pulse would be unburdened by such a present.

Jack Grealish was on but Kasper Hjulmand used his bench more boldly, sending on Yussuf Poulsen and Christian Norgaard for the impressive Damsgaard and Dolberg. Or was it more desperately, as Rice and Phillips (95.2 and 90.2 per cent pass completion) emerged from choppy waters to gradually exert control and wrestle the opponents deeper.

Six minutes of stoppage time: would you even dare? Sterling still asked questions of defenders with no remaining appetite for such trivia. Fouls piled up, bodies were on the line. This was how England tended to conclude big knockout games but Denmark reached the sanctuary of full-time.

 

Still Southgate kept his talent-stacked bench sheathed. Harry Kane fired towards Schmeichel on the angle. No one was there for the rebound. Fresh legs might have been.

And so, they arrived. Phil Foden instantly schemed with bad intentions, briefly lifting kindred-spirit Grealish in the process.

Sterling still schemed with bad intentions and found himself lying at the feet of Jannik Vestergaard, which felt mocking because the hulking centre-back looked like the biggest, tiredest man in the whole world.

The Manchester City forward was on the floor due to some combination of contact from Joakim Maehle and Mathias Jensen. Danny Makkelie ruled it was enough for a penalty.

Stop. Breathe.

Saved? No problem. Harry Kane never needs to calm down with a loose ball and a goal in front of him.

2-1. It was time for bedlam.

England reached their first European Championship final as an extra-time goal from Harry Kane sealed a 2-1 win over Denmark at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday. 

The Three Lions had lost their only previous two semi-finals in the competition – against Yugoslavia in 1968 and Germany in 1996 – but Kane stroked home after his initial penalty had been saved by Kasper Schmeichel in the 104th minute to ensure they will face Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday. 

Mikkel Damsgaard had put Denmark ahead on the half-hour mark with a superb free-kick before Gareth Southgate’s side pulled level before the break when Simon Kjaer bundled into his own net under pressure from Raheem Sterling. 

England were unable to find a winner inside 90 minutes, but Kane secured a memorable win at the second time of asking to set up a mouth-watering clash against Roberto Mancini's Azzurri at the weekend.

Sterling scuffed a shot straight at Schmeichel after cutting in from the left early on, while Martin Braithwaite had an effort deflected wide at the other end following a poor throw by Jordan Pickford.

England struggled to get a foothold in the game for much of the opening half hour and were duly punished when Damsgaard whipped a free-kick past Pickford from 30 yards, ending a run of 691 minutes without conceding for Southgate's men. 

Sterling fired straight at Schmeichel from six yards as England belatedly woke from their slumber, before they pulled level in the 39th minute when Kjaer turned into his own net from Bukayo Saka's low cross. 

A full-stretch Schmeichel pawed away Harry Maguire's header at the start of the second period, while a Luke Shaw cross flashed wide after taking a heavy deflection off Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. 

England dominated the second half, taking nine shots to Denmark's one, but they were unable to find a goal that would have prevented extra-time. 

Kane was denied by Schmeichel from a tight angle at the start of the additional period and the Denmark goalkeeper was called into action again soon after to push away substitute Jack Grealish's powerful strike.

Schmeichel thought he had got the better of Kane again, the Leicester City man keeping out his weak spot-kick after Sterling had been brought down by Joakim Maehle, but the England captain slotted the rebound into an empty net to send Wembley into raptures.

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