Denmark’s gamers gathered in a circle on the sector on the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen and stared intently at a employees member’s telephone. They should have identified, by then, that that they had certified for the final 16 of the European Championship, however they wished to make certain. They wished to see the rating confirmed, formally.
The Danes had come into their remaining group recreation on Monday needing the cube to roll of their favor to make it by way of. They required a win towards Russia on dwelling soil, and for Belgium to beat Finland in St. Petersburg. That that they had an opportunity in any respect, although — that their coach, Kasper Hjulmand, might inform his gamers that this was the beginning, not the top, of their event — was exceptional in itself.
It isn’t but 10 days since Hjulmand admitted that his gamers have been “damaged,” traumatized by the expertise of seeing their pal and teammate Christian Eriksen collapse on the sector throughout their opening recreation towards Finland, pressured to face guard round him as his coronary heart was restarted as he lay immobile on the turf, and to accompany him from the sector as he was taken to hospital.
They needed to consolation his distraught accomplice, after which endure probably the most agonizing wait to find if he was out of hazard. Fairly the place soccer got here within the pecking order was illustrated by the squad’s insistence it might not determine whether or not that recreation would proceed or not till the gamers had phrase about Eriksen’s well being.
Solely once they have been instructed that he was aware and talking on the hospital did they press on, enjoying the sport the identical night as a result of — as Hjulmand mentioned — they might not bear to face an evening of sleepless fear after which have to begin once more the subsequent day. They performed, and misplaced. A couple of days later, in entrance of an emotional crowd of about 25,000 followers at Parken, they performed and misplaced once more, this time to Belgium.
That was hardly stunning. Hjulmand had mentioned that counseling can be out there to all of his squad, ought to they really feel the necessity, however it might take a while for that to have an effect. This was not the type of blow you shake off in time for the subsequent recreation.
Nonetheless, Denmark had yet one more likelihood. It had taken the lead, by way of Eriksen’s substitute, Mikkel Damsgaard, and doubled it by way of Yussuf Poulsen, however Finland was nonetheless stubbornly holding on in St. Petersburg. After which a roar swept round Parken: Information had filtered throughout the Baltic that Belgium had scored. Solely, because it turned out, the aim was dominated out — after a brief delay — for offside.
As Denmark was absorbing that blow, Russia received — and transformed — a penalty kick. Every thing hung within the steadiness as soon as extra. Once more, Denmark was made to attend.
A couple of minutes later, there was one other roar from the stands, this one a bit extra reticent. This time Belgium had taken the lead. This time the aim counted. Denmark might chill out. When Andreas Christiansen scored a 3rd, and Joakim Maehle a fourth, the group and the stadium and the nation might have fun. Maehle ran to the group, holding up the numbers 1 and 0 together with his fingers: Eriksen’s jersey quantity.
“I’ve by no means skilled something like this,” Maehle instructed the Danish broadcaster DR.
Denmark’s prize is a spherical of 16 match on Saturday, towards Wales, in Amsterdam, on the stadium the place Eriksen made his title. It doesn’t matter in any respect, not within the grand scheme of issues, however nonetheless, it means the world.