Denmark secured an unlikely place in the last 16 of Euro 2020 with an emphatic 4-1 win over Russia, whose own hopes of qualifying are over after finishing bottom on goal difference.
Belgium’s victory over Finland meant that Denmark crept into second place in group B – a scenario thought unthinkable after their first two games at the tournament.
Aleksandr Golovin had the first big chance of the match, slaloming his way through the Denmark defence before Kasper Schmeichel saved his shot from close range.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s effort from distance almost found the back of the net on the half-hour mark, and Denmark took the lead not long after through Mikkel Damsgaard. The Sampdoria man curled one from 20 yards over the helpless Matvey Safonov.
As the game approached the hour mark, Denmark were handed a gift when Roman Zobnin’s horror back-pass went straight to Yussuf Poulsen, who finished with ease.
Substitute Kasper Dolberg had a great chance to seal the three points minutes later when they caught Russia napping again, but he wasn’t able to control the ball when through on goal.
Denmark’s initial hopes of snatching second place first came about with just over 20 minutes remaining when Belgium went ahead against Finland, before Romelu Lukaku’s strike was ruled out and Artem Dzyuba pulled one back from the spot to drastically change the mood in Copenhagen.
But news filtered through that Lukas Hradecky’s own goal had put Belgium in front, and the celebrations started again, before Andreas Christensen’s wonder strike and Joakim Maehle’s cool finish settled the scores.
Here are your player ratings on a memorable night in the Danish capital…
Matvey Safonov (GK) – 6/10 – Could see his inexperience shining through, despite some top stops. Igor Akinfeev would be proud.
Igor Diveev (CB) – 5/10 – Couldn’t handle the pace and trickery of Martin Braithwaite and Damsgaard.
Georgiy Dzhikiya (CB) – 6/10 – The best of a bad Russian defence, but no real prizes for that.
Fedor Kudryashov (CB) – 5/10 – Looked very ropey and was fortunate not to receive a second yellow card.
Mario Fernandes (RWB) – 6/10 – Russia’s biggest outlet but he’s a slow right wing-back at the end of the day.
Magomed Ozdoev (CM) – 5/10 – Couldn’t get near his Danish counterparts in the middle of the park.
Roman Zobnin (CM) – 3/10 – Needless back-pass to put Denmark in total control.
Daler Kuzyaev (LWB) – 5/10 – Completely pinned back by Daniel Wass, who was hardly amazing.
Aleksey Miranchuk (RW) – 5/10 – Couldn’t stamp his authority on the game despite his obvious quality.
Aleksandr Golovin (LW) – 7/10 – Russia’s best player, but found it hard to make an impact as Denmark swarmed.
Artem Dzyuba (CF) – 4/10 – A hall of shame performance once again – and he scored!
Rifat Zhemaletdinov – 4/10
Aleksandr Sobolev – 4/10
Maksim Mukhin – N/A
Vyacheslav Karavaev – N/A
Kasper Schmeichel (GK) – 6/10 – Little to do, can’t really fault for not saving the penalty.
Andreas Christensen (CB) – 7/10 – Bloody hell, son, what a hit. Also some decent defending.
Simon Kjaer (CB) – 6/10 – Caught off guard by Golovin in the first half, but dealt well with Dzyuba.
Jannik Vestergaard (CB) – 6/10 – Penalty given against him was soft, but can equally have little to complain about.
Daniel Wass (RWB) – 6/10 – Provided plenty of energy but little application.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (CM) – 7/10 – Controlled the midfield all night long and was unfortunate not to get a goal himself.
Thomas Delaney (CM) – 7/10 – Similarly showed his class to stomp down the Russian threat.
Joakim Maehle (LWB) – 9/10 – What an unbelievable performance, creating chances and grabbing a deserved goal after a long night of torturing the Russian defence.
Martin Braithwaite (RW) – 8/10 – Didn’t stop running, didn’t stop pressing. A top performance from the Barcelona man.
Mikkel Damsgaard (LW) – 8/10 – Wow, scored a huge goal to set Denmark on their way.
Yussuf Poulsen (CF) – 7/10 – Always a nuisance and was rewarded with a rather fortunate goal.
Kasper Dolberg – 7/10 – Should have had a goal, but his presence alone caused plenty of problems for Russia
Jens Stryger Larsen – N/A
Christian Norgaard – N/A
Mathias Jensen – N/A