England were home; they just couldn’t find the key to fit the door. Denmark were done; they just wouldn’t let it lie.
Ultimately, that is what got England over the threshold. The talent this country can throw at a football match these days. Not a golden team, but a gem of a squad. There was no let up for an exhausted Danish team. Jack Grealish, then Phil Foden. Forces massing on the touchline. England ran them, and ran them, and ran them. And finally, Denmark cracked.
Joakim Maehle lunged in, with tired legs, and brought down Raheem Sterling. Referee Danny Makkelie – the most popular official in this country since that Russian linesman – pointed to the spot. A VAR check confirmed the obvious – and Harry Kane stepped up to the ball.
England are through to the Euro 2020 final after beating Denmark 2-1 in extra-time on a historic night at Wembley
Captain Harry Kane scored with his rebound from the penalty spot after Kasper Schmeichel had saved his spot-kick
Kane’s penalty was poor but Schmeichel couldn’t hold on and he was quick to pounce on the rebound to fire into the net
Raheem Sterling was brought down by Joakim Maehle and referee Danny Makkelie pointed to the penalty spot
Delirious England fans celebrate wildly in the stands after Kane had put them within touching distance of the final
Mikkel Damsgaard celebrates after giving Denmark the lead in the 30th minute with an unstoppable free-kick
Denmark’s players congratulate goalscorer Damsgaard after the winger’s free-kick silenced the England fans at Wembley
Damsgaard’s free-kick sailed into the top left corner with Jordan Pickford only able to get finger tips on the ball
England were level when Denmark captain Simon Kjaer turned Bukayo Saka’s cross into his own net in the 39th minute
England’s players congratulate Sterling and Saka after their roles in the equalising goal just before the half-time break
Kasper Schmeichel made a fantastic point-blank save from Raheem Sterling just before England scored in the first half
England (4-2-3-1): Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Phillips, Rice (Henderson 94), Mount (Foden 94), Saka (Grealish 68, Trippier 105), Sterling, Kane
Subs not used: Coady, James, Ramsdale, Sancho, Mings, Bellingham, Rashford, Johnstone,
Goals: Kjaer (OG) 39, Kane 104
Denmark (3-4-3): Schmeichel, Christensen (Andersen 78), Kjaer, Vestergaard, Larsen (Wass 66), Hojbjerg, Delaney (Jensen 87), Maehle, Dolberg (Norgaard 66), Damsgaard (Poulsen 66) , Braithwaite
Subs not used: Lossl, Zanka, Cornelius, Ronnow, Skov, Wind, Skov Olsen
Goals: Damsgaard 30
Referee: Danny Makkelie (Netherlands)
This is England, however. Nothing is straightforward. If Kane has taken a poorer penalty in his life, it is hard to remember. Good height for a goalkeeper, not near enough to the corner, Kasper Schmeichel – who had an outstanding game – pushed it out. And Kane was on it. Finished into the opposite corner, Schmeichel stranded.
Scenes. And another hoodoo broken by Gareth Southgate’s men. This was the fifth straight England semi-final to go to penalties. The previous four have been lost. This was won. They are ticking them off, these obstacles to success. Next up, the first final since 1966.
And it’s going to be hard. Harder than this? Probably. Italy are a better team than Denmark. Kasper Hjulmand’s team have had a brilliant tournament, certainly in the most testing circumstances, but England were better on the night. Credit Sterling for never stopping the forward momentum; credit the team for bouncing back after going behind; and credit Southgate, too. This is his team, his men, moulded in his image.
A yes man? He brought fans’ favourite on after 69 minutes, used him to run Denmark ragged and then, having got ahead, removed him at half-time of extra time for Kieran Trippier to shut the game down. That is a different form of courage. The bravery to be unpopular, to be the scapegoat if it goes wrong. With seven minutes to go, Martin Brathwaite’s shot was tipped round by Jordan Pickford. Had that gone in…
It didn’t. England won. England are in the final. The end justified the means. That’s football. England are actually quite good at it. Pinch yourself and believe.
More to follow.
Primer Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Symonds were in attendance and seated in the Royal Box at Wembley
Gareth Southgate’s starting line-up sing the national anthem in front of their home fans at Wembley on Wednesday night
Schmeichel was there again to keep out Harry Maguire’s header in the second half with a big save to the bottom left corner
England were frustrated in the first half as Sterling was just unable to get on the end of Kane’s cross in the opening stages
Kane had a second half penalty appeal turned down as the striker went down under a challenge from Christian Norgaard
Southgate brought Jack Grealish on for Saka in the 68th minute as England looked for a creative spark to unlock the Denmark
Kane had a chance right at the end of the 90 minutes but miss-kicked the ball after Grealish laid it across to him in the box
England’s captain had another effort saved by Schmeichel at the beginning of extra-time as he fired low at the near post
Gareth Southgate gave his England players a rousing team-talk as they prepared for another 30 minutes of football