England fed off the energy of a passionate Wembley crowd to beat Denmark 2-1 in extra time in the Euro 2020 semi-finals on Wednesday night and now stand just 90 minutes away from ending their 55-year trophy drought.
Gareth Southgate’s men will face Italy on Sunday — again on home turf — infused with belief they can win a first major international tournament since the 1966 World Cup.
For Euro 92 champions Denmark, defeat spells the end of a fairytale run to the last four after the trauma of witnessing star man Christian Eriksen collapse in their first match.
England emerged on a cool evening at Wembley after the crowd of almost 65,000 had whipped themselves into a frenzy with rousing renditions of “Sweet Caroline” and “Football’s Coming Home”.
But Denmark ripped up the home script on the half-hour when Mikkel Damsgaard punished Luke Shaw for a foul on Andreas Christensen, smashing a free-kick past the despairing dive of Jordan Pickford.
That was the first goal England had conceded in the entire tournament and thousands of British-based Danes celebrated wildly.
The crowd went flat but England were level within 10 minutes when Denmark captain Simon Kjaer could only bundle the ball into his own net after a searching cross from Bukayo Saka.
Neither side could find a goal in the second period despite intense pressure from the home side as normal time drew to a close.
The volume in the stadium increased in extra time as England put Denmark under intense pressure and they finally got their reward when Raheem Sterling was fouled in the box by Joakim Maehle.
Harry Kane’s penalty was saved by Kasper Schmeichel but he converted the rebound to give England the advantage and they held Denmark at bay to seal the win.
The final whistle sparked scenes of delirium in the stands and on the pitch as the players partied with the crowd.—AFP