Denmark’s gamers gathered in a circle on the sector on the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen and stared intently at a employees member’s telephone. They should have recognized, by then, that they’d certified for the final 16 of the European Championship, however they needed to make sure. They needed to see the rating confirmed, formally.
The Danes had come into their remaining group sport on Monday needing the cube to roll of their favor to make it by means of. They required a win towards Russia on residence soil, and for Belgium to beat Finland in St. Petersburg. That they’d an opportunity in any respect, although — that their coach, Kasper Hjulmand, might inform his gamers that this was the beginning, not the top, of their match — was outstanding in itself.
It shouldn’t be but 10 days since Hjulmand admitted that his gamers have been “broken,” traumatized by the expertise of seeing their buddy and teammate Christian Eriksen collapse on the sector throughout their opening sport towards Finland, pressured to stand guard round him as his coronary heart was restarted as he lay immobile on the turf, and to accompany him from the sector as he was taken to hospital.
They had to consolation his distraught associate, after which endure probably the most agonizing wait to uncover if he was out of hazard. Quite the place soccer got here within the pecking order was illustrated by the squad’s insistence it could not determine whether or not that sport would proceed or not till the gamers had phrase about Eriksen’s well being.
Only after they have been advised that he was aware and talking on the hospital did they press on, enjoying the sport the identical night as a result of — as Hjulmand stated — they may not bear to face an evening of sleepless fear after which have to begin once more the subsequent day. They performed, and misplaced. A number of days later, in entrance of an emotional crowd of about 25,000 followers at Parken, they performed and misplaced once more, this time to Belgium.
That was hardly stunning. Hjulmand had stated that counseling can be obtainable to all of his squad, ought to they really feel the necessity, however it could take a while for that to have an effect. This was not the kind of blow you shake off in time for the subsequent sport.
Still, Denmark had yet one more probability. It had taken the lead, by means of Eriksen’s alternative, Mikkel Damsgaard, and doubled it by means of Yussuf Poulsen, however Finland was nonetheless stubbornly holding on in St. Petersburg. And then a roar swept round Parken: News had filtered throughout the Baltic that Belgium had scored. Only, because it turned out, the objective was dominated out — after a brief delay — for offside.
As Denmark was absorbing that blow, Russia received — and transformed — a penalty kick. Everything hung within the stability as soon as extra. Again, Denmark was made to wait.
A couple of minutes later, there was one other roar from the stands, this one slightly extra reticent. This time Belgium had taken the lead. This time the objective counted. Denmark might chill out. When Andreas Christiansen scored a 3rd, and Joakim Maehle a fourth, the workforce and the stadium and the nation might have fun. Maehle ran to the gang, holding up the numbers 1 and zero along with his fingers: Eriksen’s jersey quantity.
Denmark’s prize is a spherical of 16 match on Saturday, towards Wales, in Amsterdam, on the stadium the place Eriksen made his title. It doesn’t matter in any respect, not within the grand scheme of issues, however nonetheless, it means the world.