England edged out Denmark to reach the final of the Euro 2020, marking their first semi-final win since the 1966 World Cup as Harry Kane’s extra-time goal earned them a 2-1 victory at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.
England had to come from behind as a Simon Kjaer own-goal cancelled out Mikkel Damsgaard’s superb free kick for the Danes in the first half.
The home side were on top throughout but struggled to break down the battling Denmark defence. England were awarded a penalty in the 103rd-minute after Raheem Sterling went down with minimum contact, allowing captain Kane to decide the match.
It was a tough way for Denmark to end their emotional ride from the fear and distress of Christian Eriksen’s opening game collapse to their first semi-final since their shock Euro 92 win, but their exhausted players left Wembley with socks rolled down but heads held high.
England will return to Wembley on Sunday, 55 years after lifting the World Cup there, but they did it the hard way.
They had reached the semis without conceding a goal and it needed something special to pierce their rearguard as Damsgaard fired a powerful, dipping 25-yard free kick over the wall and beyond the diving Jordan Pickford – the tournament’s first goal direct from a free kick – after 30 minutes.
Raheem Sterling was denied at point-blank range by Kasper Schmeichel before the 39th-minute equaliser, when Bukayo Saka hit the byline and fizzed over a low cross that Kjaer bundled across his own line in his attempt to stop the ball from reaching Sterling.
Schmeichel was on hand again with an excellent diving save to palm away a Harry Maguire header and England began to turn the screw.
However, despite all the pressure and relentless passing and probing around the box, England struggled to carve out a clear opening and the match rolled into extra time.
The extra 30 minutes became a virtual attack versus defence exercise, as Schmeichel saved again from Kane and Jack Grealish.
Sterling continued to drive into the box and was eventually brought down by Joakim Maehle for the VAR-reviewed penalty that Kane stuck poorly and Schmeichel blocked, only for the captain to tuck home the rebound.