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Danish delight in Baku as Denmark advance with win over Czech Republic

Danish delight in Baku as Denmark advance with win over Czech Republic

From Danish delight to Danish dynamite and every witty headline in between, Denmark continues to add to their European story this summer, and has now booked their place in the semifinals of Euro2020 after a 2-1 win against the Czech Republic at Baku’s Olympic Stadium.

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Thomas Delaney headed De rød-hvide into an early lead just 5-minutes into proceedings after a dubiously awarded corner kick, before OGC Nice’s Kasper Dolberg doubled the advantage 3-minutes from the interval.

Patrik Schick brought the goal deficit back to just one 3-minutes after the resumption of play in the second-half, drawing him level with Cristiano Ronaldo for the joint-lead in the golden boot race, with five goals. But it would not be enough to spurn the Czechs on to find an equalizer, though they should undoubtedly leave the tournament with their heads held high after a credible quarterfinals run; their first at a major tournament since 2012.

Underrated Denmark continue to impress under Kasper Hjulmand

But the night belongs to the Danes, who continue to perform despite the absence of talisman Christian Eriksen. Kasper Hjulmand deserves the utmost credit as well, bringing together an underrated group of players for a nation who – despite having entered the tournament ranked 10th in the world by FIFA (the seventh-highest ranked European nation) – many did not give any hope of making a dark horse run into the latter stages of the competition.

Hjulmand’s record since his appointment over a year ago now stands at 11-2-4, with Denmark hitting 40-goals in the process and allowing just 13. The unexpected 1-0 loss to Finland did not deter this group, and though they fought tooth and nail to almost upset Belgium in their second group stage match, the Danes were at their very best when their backs were against the wall against Russia – to the tune of a 4-1 rout and a place in the knockout stage. In doing so, they became the only side in European Championship history to progress to the knockout stage after losing their opening two fixtures, and after a 4-0 round of sixteen win against 2016 surprise package Wales, also became the first-ever nation to score 4-goals in consecutive matches.

Then there is Joakim Mæhle, the ever-present performer for this Danish side this summer, who most knew little about unless hailing from Denmark or closely following Serie A outfit Atalanta Bergamo.

Mæhle has been the face of Denmark’s renaissance this summer, with an impressive end product to match the overall level of play he has exhibited on both sides of the ball. Mæhle nearly made it 3-1 late on against the Czech Republic as well, and his influence in the Danish attack cannot be overstated.

With Kasper Dolberg re-announcing himself on the European stage with three goals this summer after his star seemed to fall so abruptly following its ascension during his time at Ajax, there is seemingly one feel-good story after another attached to Denmark.

The last time that the Danes featured in the semi-finals of the European Championships was in 1992; the same year they went on to win the competition and net their only major international trophy in the nation’s footballing history. The 29-years between reaching this same stage is a Euro record for the longest period between semi-final appearances. At this point, it would almost feel like an injustice if Denmark did not go on to win the final at Wembley, and there are not very many that would begrudge them in doing so.

This article was edited by Conor Laird.