When the day started, Denmark's time at Euro 2020 was just about over.
When it ended, Denmark — and pretty much every neutral fan — was over the moon.
The Danes blew past Russia 4-1 thanks to a big second half, and Belgium's 2-0 win over Finland elsewhere meant Denmark finished second in Group B thanks to tiebreakers.
Andreas Christensen's rocket goal in the 79th minute ensured Denmark's goal difference would be enough to vault from fourth place to second, which guarantees a spot in the knockout stage:
A GOAL FOR ALL OF DENMARK! 🇩🇰 pic.twitter.com/7OzR4R1y3a
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 21, 2021
This all comes nine days after Christian Eriksen's on-field collapse in the opener against Finland. The Danes lost their first two games, with several of them admitting their mental state was affected by the incident, and entered Monday at the bottom of Group B with zero points.
Eriksen was discharged from the hospital on Friday, and surprised his teammates at training the next day. It seemed to buoy the Danes' spirits, as they took advantage of a reasonably straightforward path to advancing.
Russia and Finland had only three points apiece entering Monday, which meant if Denmark won by at least two goals and Belgium was also victorious, the Danes would move on automatically. The top two teams in each group advance, and the top four third-place teams qualify for the knockout stage as well.
Denmark's Mikkel Damsgaard scored on a gorgeous curler in the first half to give hope to the crowd in Copenhagen, one of the tournament's host sites. Just before the hour mark, Russia's Roman Zobnin gifted Denmark a second goal with an awful back pass that Yussuf Poulsen tucked into the net:
🇩🇰 Gooooooool de Dinamarca⚽
Los rusos cometen un gravísimo error y les regalan el gol a los daneses 🇩🇰
⏰58'#RUS 0-0 #DEN
🔴 ¡EN VIVO!: https://t.co/CYoISJLnu4
📲GRATIS en la app TUDN y @PrendeTV
#EuroTUDN I #VeranoDeCampeones I #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/3LnfWigObz
— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) June 21, 2021
What followed was a nervy stretch for Denmark, as the Belgians had a goal taken off the board thanks to a questionable offside call and Russia's Artem Dzyuba scored thanks to a questionable penalty. In the process, he became Russia's joint top scorer of all time with 30 goals.
But then Belgium took the lead thanks to a Finnish own goal (before adding a second through Romelu Lukaku), setting the stage for Christensen's wonder strike. Denmark added a fourth goal a couple minutes after, when Joakim Mæhle cut inside and finished on a counter.
The Danes will now face Wales in Amsterdam on Saturday in the Round of 16. Their tournament isn't over yet.
Judging by their resolve Monday, it may not be over for awhile.
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