Denmark produced a scintillating performance to book a spot in the last 16 of Euro 2020 following a rampant 4-1 victory over Russia in Copenhagen.
Mikkel Damsgaard capped a dominant first half for Kasper Hjulmand’s side by opening the scoring with a brilliant turn and shot on 38 minutes.
Russia had been on the back foot but could have gone ahead against the run of play when a surging, solo run from Aleksandr Golovin was thwarted by a fine save from Kasper Schmeichel.
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The Danes then took complete control in the second period and doubled their lead when a blind back pass from Roman Zobnin allowed Yussuf Poulsen to gleefully tuck home.
Artem Dzyuba reduced the arrears with a cool spot kick 20 minutes from time but the Danes were not to be denied.
Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen rifled in a stunning 25-yard effort 11 minutes from the end before Joakim Maehle ran through to fire in a fourth just moments later.
The results – coupled with Belgium’s victory over Finland – means Denmark finish second behind the Belgians with Finland third and Russia bowing out of the tournament in fourth.
Denmark will now meet Wales in the last 16 on Saturday, June 26 in Amsterdam.
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What a wonderful story for Denmark and football as a whole. When their talisman Christian Eriksen collapsed and needed emergency treatment to save his life on the pitch in their opening match against Finland, such scenes of joy that have been witnessed at the end of this encounter against Russia seemed completely out of reach for Denmark.
The Danes had to return and play out a defeat to Finland that same evening and then lost to Belgium. However, they produced a truly great display against a poor Russia here to somehow defy the odds and claim a place in the knockout stage. It's a fairytale turnaround from the jaws of despair.
At full time, the players huddled in a group on the pitch awaiting confirmation of their qualification. It was a moment for all of football to savour. The Danes have been on a real emotional rollercoaster in the past few weeks and showed incredible spirit to turn their fortunes around and transform a tale of sorrow into a much more positive one. Denmark are very much everyone's second team at this tournament now and with this type of unity they could yet continue the journey even further.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Joakim Maehle (Denmark). A bundle of energy on the left flank. Ran his socks off throughout and capped his tireless display with a deserved goal to put the seal on a wonderful night in Copenhagen.
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RUSSIA: Safonov 6, Kudrjasov 6, Diveev 6, Dzhikiya 6, Fernandes 6, Zobnin 5, Ozdoev 6, Kuzyayev 6, Miranchuk 6, Golovin 6, Dzyuba 7. Subs: Sobolev 7, Zhemaletdinov 6, Mukhin 6, Karavayev 6.
DENMARK: Schmeichel 8, Maehle 9, Kjær 8, Christensen 8, Vestergaard 8, Wass 8, Højbjerg 9, Delaney 8, Poulsen 8, Braithwaite 8, Damsgaard 8. Subs: Dolberg 7, Larsen 7, Norgaard 7, Cornelius n/a, Jensen n/a.
18’ – RUSSIA CHANCE! Golovin suddenly bursts into life for Russia. He surges through the midfield and drifts beyond a challenge before hitting a 15-yard shot that Schmeichel blocks with his legs.
30’ – DENMARK CHANCE! Højbjerg lets fly with a superb 25-yard drive that flashes just past the post.
38’ - GOAL! – Russia 0-1 Denmark. Damsgaard takes a pass in a central area, turns to his right and whips a wonderful 25-yard effort into the corner with Safonov rooted to the spot.
54’ – DENMARK CHANCE! Højbjerg clips a wonderful ball towards the run of Wass on the right of the area. He hooks a sublime pass into the path of Braithwaite, whose touch is too heavy and the chance goes begging. He should have hit that first time.
59’ - GOAL! – Russia 0-2 Denmark. It's two and it's a howler for Russia. Poulsen is perfectly placed to seize upon a blind back pass and tuck the ball into an all-but empty net with Safonov out of position.
70’ - GOAL! – Russia 1-2 Denmark. Dzyuba steps up and coolly fires his spot kick down the middle with Schmeichel diving out of the way. The penalty was awarded after substitute Sobolev was pulled to the floor in the area.
79’ - GOAL! – Russia 1-3 Denmark. Christensen rifles a 25-yard thunderbolt beyond Safonov after the Russia keeper had made a flurry of fines saves to initially keep the Danes at bay.
81’ - GOAL! – Russia 1-4 Denmark. Denmark break at speed. It's played to Joakim Maehle who races away before composing himself and firing a low shot into the corner.
At 20 years and 353 days, Mikkel Damsgaard has become Denmark's youngest ever goalscorer at a major international tournament (World Cup and EURO).
Denmark are the first team in European Championship history to reach the knockout stages of the competition having lost their first two group stage games.
Denmark have scored 4+ goals in a match at a major tournament for the first time since the 1998 World Cup, in a 4-1 victory vs Nigeria.
Following his goal against Denmark, Artem Dzyuba equals the record of goals for the Russian national team set by Aleksandr Kerzhakov (30 goals).
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