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Euro 2020: Fairytale comes true as Denmark grabs place in knockout stages

In a campaign overshadowed by the health of Christian Eriksen, who suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark’s opening Euro 2020 game, the Danish national team delivered a pulsating performance against Russia to secure an unlikely place in the tournament’s knockout stages.

Having lost their opening two games, Denmark thumped Russia 4-1 in Copenhagen on Monday and with Group B winner Belgium beating Finland 2-0 in St. Petersburg, the Danes finished second, setting up a last-16 match against Wales in Amsterdam on Saturday.

Ahead of Denmark’s second group B game — the 2-1 defeat by Belgium — a giant shirt bearing Eriksen’s name with the number 10 was unfurled and the popular “You Will Never Walk Alone” football anthem was played.

Those tributes were repeated on Monday as the Danish fans got into voice, with Mikkel Damsgaard’s thunderous strike then setting the tempo for Denmark’s stirring display in an emotionally charged Parken Stadium.

Yussuf Poulsen pounced on Roman Zobnin’s awful back pass to extend Denmark’s lead, before Russian striker Artem Dzyuba’s penalty made it 2-1.

Denmark regrouped and Andreas Christensen’s stunning long-range shot restored the Danes’ two-goal advantage with Joakim Maehle then adding a fourth.

When that fourth goal went in Danish fans could have been forgiven for thinking they were part of a 21st century fairytale.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Maehle told Danish broadcaster DR. “The atmosphere gets better every time we are here at Parken.

“The most important (thing) is that we are now united as Denmark. We need to enjoy this moment. I’m super proud of the boys.”

Damsgaard added that it was “insane” that Denmark had somehow managed to qualify for the last 16 round.

“That team, these players … It’s fantastic to be part of this. Totally amazing to hear people get crazy,” Damsgaard told Danish broadcaster DR.

The results in Group B on Monday also ensured the Czech Republic, England, Sweden and France as well as Switzerland, who finished third in Group A, advance to the knockout stages.

Chilwell and Mount isolating

Earlier on Monday, the Netherlands continued its impressive start to Euro 2020, dominating North Macedonia in a 3-0 win with Gini Wijnaldum scoring twice after Memphis Depay gave the Dutch a first-half lead.

Austria beat 1-0 Ukraine to secure second place in Group C and will now play Italy at Wembley on June 26 in the last 16 round.

Meanwhile, the Scottish national team said that midfielder Billy Gilmour had tested positive for Covid-19.

‘Having liaised with Public Health England, Billy will now self-isolate for 10 days and therefore miss tomorrow’s UEFA EURO 2020 Group D match against Croatia at Hampden,” said the Scottish team in a statement.

Gilmour’s positive test had implications for two English players — Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell.

“As a precaution at this time and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE), Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount are isolating after interaction with Scotland player Billy Gilmour at Friday’s match,” an FA statement said.

“The pair will be kept away from the rest of the England players and wider support team, pending further discussions with PHE.

“The entire squad had lateral flow tests on Monday afternoon and all were again negative, as was the case with Sunday’s UEFA pre-match PCR tests.

“We will continue to follow all Covid-19 protocols and the UEFA testing regime, while remaining in close contact with PHE.”

England’s final Group D game is against the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

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