The whole nation waited for 55 years – more than five decades to watch their team feature in the finals of a major footballing event, but what they received, in the end, was nothing but heartbreaks during the knockout rounds and whenever they featured in the semifinals, the outcome always left the nation stunned. But this time around, Gareth Southgate’s English boys have broken the jinx of 55 years. They would meet Italy in the finals.

Denmark, their opponent in the semifinal at Wembley, had surpassed all the expectations since that shocking incident at Copenhagen last month. They regrouped and played fantasy football and just when the repeat of yet another Euro 1992 was around the corner; Harry Kane sealed the fate of the match. The dazzling Danes would go home with their heads high.

Denmark went unchanged from their win over the Czech Republic in their quarterfinal. Kasper Hjulmand kept faith with the same line-up that triumphed in Baku as he opted to leave Dolberg in the final third. Stryger Larsen also remained on the field ahead of Wass.

England made one change to their line-up that beat Ukraine 4-0 last time out. Saka had recovered from an ankle injury that ruled him out at Rome and he replaced Jadon Sancho on the right flank.

Southgate resisted the temptation to match Denmark’s formation, leaving Trippier on the bench and Mason Mount remained in the final third.

England were pressing high up as Luke Shaw probed forward down the left and fed an offload inside to Mount. He tried to turn but got crowded out. The ball deflected off Simon Kjaer and landed in the grasp of Kasper Schmeichel. England appealed for a back-pass, but the referee dismissed their claims.

Kalvin Phillips worked the ball out wide to Kane on the right flank and he sent a low cross into the box. Raheem Sterling attacked it at the back post, but the delivery evaded the run of the forward.

Kane offloaded to Sterling in space on the left flank. He cut inside to shoot on his right foot but sent a tame effort straight at Schmeichel.

Kalvin Phillips lost possession and allowed Hojbjerg to surge at the England box. He shot low and hard towards the target, but Pickford made the save. However, the England keeper in his haste to distribute the ball threw it straight to Dolberg. He fed an offload towards Braithwaite to shoot, but Maguire deflected his effort wide of the right post.

Pickford came through a crowd of players on his line to punch Stryger Larsen’s corner away from danger. Mount won his duel with the Denmark man on the left flank to earn a free-kick for his team.

Vestergaard won the ball from Kane and England were exposed at the back.

Damsgaard opened up room for a strike at goal from 20 yards with his right foot, but he bent his effort just wide of the right post.

Just when Pickford set a new record for an England goalkeeper for most minutes without conceding, overtaking Gordon Banks’ 720 minutes set between May/July 1966 – Denmark won a free-kick.

Damsgaard put the Danes with a brilliant strike – a strike to relish.

He curled his effort over the wall and it had enough dip to travel under Pickford’s bar. The England keeper got a hand to the ball but failed to keep it out of the net.

England were trailing behind and the gradual control over the ball by Denmark after the English high press had paid off.

Schmeichel produced a brilliant stop to deny Sterling from a close range. Kane clipped a low ball into the box and Sterling gets a march on Christensen but saw his blast from six yards smashed straight into the body of the Denmark keeper, who spread himself to make the block.

England advanced forward and exploited the flanks because Denmark unleashed a midblock.

England cut open the Denmark defence down the right flank where Saka surged into the inside channel. The winger delivered a perfect cross into the middle. Sterling would be on hand to score if Kjaer did not slide. Unfortunately for the AC Milan man, he sent it into the back of the net.

England were back on level terms at the stroke of halftime and after the break, it was all about England vs the splendid Schmeichel, who revived his father’s heroics against the Dutch in the semifinal of Euro 1992.

Mount delivered a precise cross into the box from the right flank. Maguire rose to head at goal and his attempt took a minor deflection on its way to the target. Schmeichel did extremely well to reach to his right and claw it away from danger.

Sterling offloaded to Shaw on the charge down the left inside channel. He fired a cross low and hard into the middle. It deflected off Hojbjerg and spun towards the target, but it just travelled away from the goal.

Denmark sat deeper and which gave England enough spaces to built attacks and create pressure – the backline remained resilient while Schmeichel was like a wall.

It became hard for England to get past him.

Kane sent a freekick wide on the right, going down as soon as he felt Maehle’s breath on his back. Mount delivers and Maguire meets it and guided a header towards the far corner from 10 yards – Schmeichel hurled himself to his right and tips it away – simply outstanding goalkeeping!

Sterling and Saka combined in the box, but the former could not pull the trigger. Mount latched on to the loose ball and went for the strike, but he curled a tame effort straight at Schmeichel and then, Mount collected an offload from Kane and clipped a cross into the box. It went towards the target, forcing Schmeichel to turn the ball over the bar.

With ten minutes remaining, Kalvin  Phillips latched on to a loose ball 25 yards from goal and he launched a low strike towards the net, but his effort travelled wide of the left post.

In the stoppage time, substitute Jack Grealish teased a ball through to Kane in the box, but the England skipper misfired in front of the net amid a desperate lunge of Kjaer ahead of him.

The game went to extra-time and with yet another penalty shootout looming large, England found a way to take the lead.

Sterling made a brilliant incursion down the right and into the box before going down under a challenge by Maehle. The referee pointed to the spot but there was a VAR review. And the replay didn’t show much contact between Maehle and Sterling, but the penalty decision stood – a controversial decision that would change the fate of the game.

Kane side-footed the penalty to the keeper’s left, Schmeichel went that way and saved it, but luck was on Kane’s side and the rebound fell to him. He tapped it into the net from six yards.

Denmark advanced but England remained composed enough.

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Italy are waiting for them in the final.

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