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3 things we learned from Denmark v. Russia

Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards and Nick Mendola recap the early results from Euro 2020, including JPW's experience at Wembley for England's win over Croatia.

With a 4-1 victory over Russia on the final day of Group B play at EURO 2020, Denmark booked their place in the knockout rounds on a night that no one in attendance in Copenhagen could ever possibly forget.

[ MORE: EURO 2020 hub ]

Thanks to Belgium’s 2-0 victory over Finland in the other Group B finale on Monday, the result sees Denmark climb from 4th to 2nd place to book their place in the round of 16, where they’ll face Wales.

Three things we learned: Denmark - Russia

1. Danish delight: Here’s an obvious statement: Denmark reaching the knockout rounds of EURO 2020, after what their team (and nation) endured on the second day of the tournament, will undoubtedly be one of the greatest, and certainly most inspiring, stories from the summer of 2021. These Danes are heroes.

2. Damsgaard steps into Eriksen’s void: One of the many unexpected on-field results of Eriksen’s emergency and impending withdrawal from the squad, is that Damsgaard has seen his own career timeline accelerated with Denmark. Not long ago seen as the heir apparent to Eriksen, a true Danish superstar who looked set to only just begin the second half of his own career, Damsgaard was suddenly asked to step into the first team and assume the responsibilities of chief chance creator/scorer. All signs pointing toward positive progression on that front…

3. Hojbjerg also hitting his stride: Don’t look now, but Damsgaard and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, the two who linked up for the goal, appear to have their feet under themselves following the difficult start to their EURO 2020 campaign. Hojbjerg was sensational (and over-worked) at Tottenham this season, and suddenly looks like running the Denmark midfield all the same.

Man of the match: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg - Two assists, a boatload of defensive actions and just under 90 percent passes completed. As just discussed, Hojbjerg is Denmark’s leader in intensity and desire, and he looks better right now than he has in months and months.

The game’s first shot came in the 18th minute and nearly saw Russia take an early lead. Aleksandr Golovin got on the ball just outside Denmark’s penalty area and slalomed his way past two defenders to find the space for a hard, right-footed shot. Unfortunately for Golovin, he put it straight into the hands of Kasper Schmeichel.

Damsgaard just about brought the house down with his opener in the 38th minute. The pass (from Hojbjerg), the turn, the strike, the explosion, the limbs in the stands. An unreal scene in Copenhagen.

The second goal wasn’t quite as well worked or cleverly crafted by a moment of attacking genius, not so much as one momentary brain lapse from Roman Zobnin to play Poulsen in behind for an open-netter.

At the exact same time Romelu Lukaku had his goal, which would have put Belgium ahead of Finland and sent Denmark 2nd in Group B, ruled out for offside, Jannik Vestergaard was whistled for a somewhat soft foul inside the penalty area. Artem Dzyuba stepped to the penalty spot and converted to keep Russia’s hopes of a late escape alive.

Six minutes later, Belgium scored to put Denmark level with Finland on three points. Three minutes after that, Christensen lit his rocket to take a firmer hold on 2nd place.

It was only three more minutes until the next goal, in the 82nd minute, when Joakim Maehle cut inside from the right side of the box and hit a low, angled shot inside the near post. Denmark, at that point, were through as Group B runners-up, with thanks also going to Romelu Lukaku for Belgium’s (and his) second goal of that game mere moments later.

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