England defeat Denmark and face Italy in the final

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England’s men’s national team is in the final of a European championship for the first time.

Harry Kane converted a rebound from a saved penalty in extra time after Raheem Sterling pulled the foul to give England a 2-1 win over Denmark and a Sunday match-up against Italy for the 2020 Euro. The game will be played at London’s Wembley Stadium as England seeks its first major men’s trophy since winning the 1966 World Cup.

Sterling went down in the penalty area in the 103rd minute when he ricocheted off the near post at the end line after contact with Joakim Maehle. This is what a screenshot of the penalty looked like. It was labeled a penalty in real time and was confirmed after a video review.

Kasper Schmeichel was able to parry Kane’s penalty well, but the ball hit the English captain and striker. He didn’t miss his second chance.

The penalty awarded to Sterling was softer than a penalty Kane could have taken towards the end of regulation. The referee fouled Kane despite apparently not making contact when attempting to attack the ball in the Danish penalty area. You can bet there are England fans out there who think the call for Sterling’s punishment was warranted.

Denmark played well in the first half before looking utterly exhausted in the second half and extra time. The Danes took the lead in the 30th minute with a wonderful free kick from Mikkel Damsgaard and stunned an adrenaline-filled crowd at Wembley.

Damsgaard’s goal was the first England allowed in their six games at Euro 2020.

England separated the game by an own goal before halftime. Kane hit a pass forward to Bukayo Saka, and Saka’s cross for Sterling in front of goal was deflected by a sliding Simon Kjaer into the net.

Kjaer’s goal kick was the eleventh own goal at Euro 2020. It is a tournament record – by far – and six more goals than the leading goalscorers Cristiano Ronaldo, Patrik Schick and Kane each scored in the tournament.

England had the ball for 58% of the game and had 10 shots on goal. While England controlled the ball and had more chances to score, Denmark were aggressive with their counter opportunities, especially in the first half.

Wednesday’s game was England’s third semi-final match at Euro 2020, but it never got past the round. England lost in the semifinals of the 1968 European Championship – England only played two games in that tournament – and lost in the semifinals of the 1996 European Championship. In the 25 years and five tournaments since that semifinal match, England had reached the quarterfinals twice and even failed to qualify for the 2008 tournament .

A fantastic finale?

The title matchup is no accident. England and Italy were the top two teams throughout the tournament. England’s defenses were rock solid and Raheem Sterling was a dynamic threat that tore the defense apart. Sterling’s runs in the semifinals were phenomenal and he kept attacking the Danish goal when the minutes ended in overtime.

Italy, on the other hand, were amazing at converting possession into goals. Italy only had a third on the ball in the semifinals against Spain, but took the lead with three passes and 13 seconds in the second half. After beating Spain on penalties on Tuesday, Italy have unbeaten 33 games in all competitions and have won each of their six games at Euro 2020.

Will that extend to 34 and seven on Sunday? That looks like a very balanced final. After both semifinals have gone into extra time, we won’t be surprised if there will be 30 minutes of football on Sunday too.

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