Gareth Southgate’s England is in their first final since 1966, against Italy. The nation will love this team; love what they stand for, what they represent. The resilience they showed, fighting back having gone a goal down. The bravery to win in a period of the match in which England teams have traditionally stumbled. What a manager he is proving to be.
Gareth Southgate’s decision to bring on Jack Grealish and remove Kieran Trippier in the second half is a different form of courage. It was brave for him to be unpopular, to be the scapegoat if it goes wrong. The England manager did what he believed was right for the team. That’s what leaders do.
Gareth Southgate’s decision to bring on Jack Grealish was because he sensed Denmark was there for the taking, and he was right. By the end of the game, it was as if the Danes were just hanging on, trying to get to the penalty shoot-out that spins the wheel one last time. England won. England is in the final. The end justified the means.
Every decision to here can be defended on this simple outcome. That’s football and, at last, England is actually quite good at it.
Joakim Maehle lunged with tired legend brought down Raheem Sterling. Referee Danny Makkelie pointed to the spot after a VAR check confirmed his decision. Harry Kane has scored more goals against Kasper Schmeichel than any other goalkeeper. England’s depth of talent is what got them over the threshold. This is not a golden generation, but it is a gem of a squad.
England came from behind to beat Denmark in the Euro semi-final. But Mario Mandzukic equalised for Italy just before half time to give England hope. The Three Lions will now face Italy in the final, where they are favorites to retain the trophy.
The Danes started the game ferociously but coul maintain their tempo. They made too many sloppy passes, too much emotion and too many fouls. In the 25th minute, Mikkel Damsgaard struck a shot which curled just wide of the far post. That was the warning shot. Denmark are good. Ignore those who spout about England’s easy route to the final.
England was conceding a lot of free-kicks and Denmark had worked on their set pieces. Luke Shaw tugged Andreas Christensen into a space so small they could have been captured by a medium-sized butterfly net. Damsgaard stood over it. It flew over a jumping Kane in the England wall – he didn’t even flinch – and into the top but not the corner, past a despairing Jordan Pickford.
Sterling’s cross was met by Raheem Sterling to force one of the saves of the tournament from Schmeichel. Just 43 seconds later, England was level 43 seconds after a goal from Kane. The crowd’s faith may have wavered, but there was great self-belief in the way they achieved parity. This England team is made of sterner stuff, perhaps, then previous incarnations.
Harry Maguire and Jack Grealish were sent off for England in the Euro semi-final win over Denmark. The former Leicester City defender was booked for jumping for a ball that looked entirely accidental. Daniel Makkelie showed him a yellow card before he could be sent off. They have never lost one of their last three finals, winning the last two.