- Denmark took the lead in the first half thanks to a superb strike from Mikel Damsgaard
- The Danes dominate after the break, scoring three goals in an impressive attacking performance
After such an emotionally charged tournament, with memories of Christian Eriksen’s collapse still painfully raw, Denmark underlined their unwavering spirit to extend their Euro 2020 adventure.
Denmark will face Wales this weekend after reaching the main goal of qualifying for the round of 16, after a brilliant performance at the site where Eriksen suffered cardiac arrest.
In Eriksen’s absence, it was only fitting that an individual brilliant goal from Mikkel Damsgaard put the Danes on the path to an exciting victory, instantly bringing memories of the Inter Milan midfielder to his better.
Damsgaard delivered a moment that will resonate in Danish football history, with the winger becoming the country’s youngest scorer in a major tournament at the age of 20 years and 353 days.
Nicknamed ‘Damsinho’ because of his Brazilian style of play, Damsgaard only played due to Eriksen’s absence, and it was a goal his teammate would have been proud of.
The youngster’s goal from Sampdoria paved the way for a comfortable victory, with Yussuf Poulsen, Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen and Joakim Maehle adding goals in the second half, to take second place in Group B.
Returning to the scene of such a traumatic and emotional incident could have been difficult, but the Danish players were energized at Parken Stadium.
With the support of their boisterous supporters, Denmark stood up against adversity and achieved their last group game admirably, a loss to Belgium, the highest ranked team in the world.
There were no question marks about the state of mind in the Danish dressing room and Kasper Hjulmand, their head coach, even promised that Denmark would beat Russia in honor of Eriksen.
Ahead of kick-off, Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel told the BBC: “I think when the chips are low that’s when you show your true colors.
“As a team we have shown what it means to be Danish over the past few days.
“In difficult times, this team has always been up to the task. If we play our game, we can cause problems for any team in the world. “
Although their tournament was filled with emotion, Denmark still had not scored a goal at Euro 2020 before this meeting with Russia.
With Russia compact and well organized defensively, it still risked being a tricky task despite the obvious merits of the home advantage.
Russia were also threatening on the counterattack and there was an 18th minute warning for the hosts. As Denmark pushed forward, Aleksandr Golovin was cleared to move from the midline to the penalty area before shooting straight at Schmeichel.
Russia also had a dangerous talisman in their lone striker and captain, Artem Dzyuba, who has been involved in 23 goals in his last 22 international appearances.
Still, Denmark were monopolizing possession and it was a game that was always going to require patience in their attempt to break through.
Tottenham midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had approached with a fierce shot from 30 yards before the opening goal came seven minutes before half-time.
It was an exquisite strike from Damsgaard, with the winger taking the ball just outside the penalty area to avoid Georgi Dzhikiya and then folding a shot into the top window.
The roar in the Danish capital was deafening.