Gareth Southgate said England’s momentous victory over Denmark had “put right” their painful defeat by Croatia in the World Cup semi-final three years ago as he hailed an “incredible occasion” for his team and the country.
Southgate said his players were forced to show resilience in a “different sort of battle” against a physical Denmark side and said they will need to overcome another “massive hurdle” against Italy in Sunday’s final.
“The most pleasing thing is that we have given our fans and nation a fantastic night and the journey carries on for another four days,” said the England manager.
“We suffered in Moscow on a night like this [in 2018] and we have managed to put that right. We are in a final and we have to enjoy that fact but there is one more massive hurdle to conquer.
“I am so proud of the players. An incredible occasion to be a part of. We knew it would not be straightforward. We said we were going to have to show some resilience and we have done that tonight. The players have done an incredible job.”
How the Danish reacted
- 1 How the Danish reacted
- 2 How England’s next opponents Italy reacted
- 3 How old rivals Scotland reacted
- 4 How the rest of Europe reacted
- 5 And the rest of the world
- 6 England camp reaction
- 7 Kane: ‘The best one-two I’ve ever played’
- 8 Walker: ‘Tonight it swung our way’
- 9 The pundits…
- 10 Neville: ‘National holiday, enjoy yourselves’
- 11 Richards: ‘The officials have got that decision wrong’
- 12 Keys: ‘Make Var deliberations audible’
- 13 The rest of football
- 14 Ozil: ‘A doubtful penalty?’
- 15 Schmeichel: ‘Referee made a big mistake’
- 16 Wenger: ‘No penalty’
- 17 Mourinho: ‘Never a penalty’
- 18 Sharing the joy
- 19 Royal seal of approval
Denmark’s newspapers showed little of the joshing humour which marked the run-up to their team’s semi-final clash with England. The Ekstra Bladet tabloid, and BT tabloid both led their main stories on the referee decisions that, in their view, had robbed their team of victory.
“Denmark was cheated,” ran the headline on BT’s website, while Ekstra Bladet’s ran with “Hjulmand furious”, with both reporting on the anger of Denmark’s coach Kasper Hjulmand that referees had failed to stop the penalty which gave England its second goal, despite there being an extra ball on the pitch.
“That sort of thing destroys a match in a minute. It’s irritating and frustrating,” he said. “It’s is hard — especially the way we were knocked out. It’s a shame for the boys and bitter for us.”
The TV2 broadcaster quoted two referees, and several top managers from third countries who all questioned whether the penalty should have been given in the first place, with many Danish fans convinced that Raheem Sterling had dived.
In a poll on their website, 92 percent of respondents said that England should not have been given the penalty.
The national broadcaster DR, and several of the newspapers, posted up a video showing how Danish keeper Kasper Schmeichel had been dazzled by a laser pen from the stands just seconds before one of England’s penalty kicks, showing the green light on his cheek.
“And then they wonder why no one likes England,” the Jyllands-Posten newspaper quoted one Danish twitter user, Kasper Grøndah, writing. “Booing during the Danish national anthem, diving like crazy during the game, elbows in every header. Laserpens. I hope they get a taste of their own medicine against Italy.”
The newspaper also described how “cheers, battle cries and insults” had “turned to silence” among 8,000 Denmark fans at a big-screen event in Aarhus, when Harry Kane’s penalty shot kicked Denmark out of the championship.
Poul Hoi, the UK correspondent for the upmarket Berlingske newspaper, wrote an opinion piece presenting the victory as the only bright spot in an otherwise dark time for Britain, expressing his distaste at the “strangely aggressive” celebrations in central London.
“Let the English party,” the opinion piece was headlined. “They have nothing else, and rejoice instead that you have woken up in Denmark.”
Ekstra Bladet also bemoaned a ‘Hard Exit’ and thanked their team “for the party”.
How England’s next opponents Italy reacted
Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport devoted its front page to a jubilant English side with a warning the Italians were ready for the final at Wembley on Sunday. ‘Prendiamoci la Corona’ (Let’s bring home the crown).
The newspaper said that England had “sweated a lot” against Denmark to confirm their status as favourites. “England will challenge Italy in the final of the European Championships.”
Tancredi Palmeri, a former Gazzetta dello Sport contributor and current beIN Sports correspondent, went even stronger, writing ‘It’s diving home’ in reference to the rather soft-looking penalty won by Raheem Sterling and claims, including by many Italians, that the Manchester City striker had dived to win the spot-kick, from which Harry Kane eventually scored the winning goal.
Meanwhile the headline in La Repubblica newspaper read: “The Impatient English – the Golden Boys Now Want it All.”
The daily newspaper story read: England exorcised their “voodoo” last night by beating Denmark and going through to the finals. It will be an “impeccable” end to Euro 2020 – a game between the two best teams of the tournament. The final on Sunday will pitch Italy against their “most feared adversary”.
It added that “Italy will confront a golden generation,” listing Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford as some of the most formidable players. “The national team is fantastic, indestructible,” La Repubblica said.
England is also the national team that is most familiar to Roberto Mancini, given his past as the manager of Manchester City and Italy are quietly confident that they can win on Sunday.
A cartoon on the front page of Corriere della Sera showed Mario Draghi, the prime minister, with his face painted in the red, green and white of the Italian flag and the words “Whatever It Takes” – a nod to his famous assurance in 2012, when he was head of the European Central Bank, that he would save the euro come what may.
Above the cartoon is a photograph of an exultant Harry Kane, celebrating after the win over Denmark. England’s huge effort against the Danes, led by Sterling, showed just how formidable the English can be, said Corriere della Sera.
“Sunday will not be easy, but nor will it be impossible” for Italy to win. England will have a huge advantage playing at Wembley. “In moments of difficulty, 60,000 fans could make all the difference,” the paper said.
The newspaper continued its commentary on England in the sports section, opting for the headline Zuppa Inglese. Literally translating as custard or trifle, the headline alluded figuratively to ‘messy England’ or ‘An English Mess’ – the accompanying report making reference to Gareth Southgate’s team being given an ‘unfair’ penalty after Sterling went down in the box and the referee failing to act when there were two balls on the pitch.
How old rivals Scotland reacted
England and Scotland have a long history when it comes to football, while earlier in the tournament the Scots held England to a goalless draw in the group stages.
The Herald, in Scotland, said the win was a case of expectation meeting reality at last, maintaining “they had to show guts and resilience to get there”.
While determining there didn’t appear to be a lot – if anything – in the penalty call, the paper reported that “it could hardly be argued that England didn’t deserve to be ahead … They deserved their shot at history this Sunday”.
The Scotsman said tiredness seemed to get the better of the Danes, “who gave their all”, while pointing out that Scotland remained the only side to deny England in front of goal this summer.
While the front of the Scottish Metro lead with ‘England dive into final’.
How the rest of Europe reacted
In France, L’Equipe devoted its front page to the English celebrations under the headline ‘Happy Kane’. Describing the result as third time lucky (referring to previous semi-final defeats against Yugoslavia in 1968 and Germany in 1996), L’Equipe said England had finally broken their “glass ceiling” and added “Helped by the refereeing, the English qualified with difficulty for their first final since 1966.”
It was, however, “a cruel outcome” for the Danes, L’Equipe reported, describing the penalty as “questionable – not to say generous”. When Kane converted it was, the report said, as if Wembley could “breathe again” after being suffocated for so long.
Marca, the Spanish sports daily newspaper, headlined their report ‘How to decide a European Championship semi-final in a minute’ and called the penalty “non-existent”.
They said that the refereeing at the tournament had been exemplary until extra-time of the second semi-final. “Then, in the space of a minute, referee Danny Makkelie took it on himself to change the game,” said the report. “The Dutch official first gave a non-existent penalty and then his Var team decided against advising him to overturn his absurd decision. Now, England are in the final.”
Marca also said that England had been “lucky” to play so many games at Wembley and criticised how opposition national anthems had been booed. “Their fans booing visiting teams’ national anthems left a bitter taste for most,” they said.
And the rest of the world
The New York Times said the win put an end to an agonising 55-year wait. “For more than half a century, England has known nothing but pain, disappointment and regret. It might have imagined that breaking that brutal, biennial cycle of dashed hopes and bittersweet dreams once and for all would feel light, and joyous, and pure. It was not.”
Saying it was too early to celebrate – “England has won nothing yet” – Smith described the Italians as by far the “finest, strongest team it has faced in either of the two tournaments for which Southgate has been in charge”.
England camp reaction
Kane: ‘The best one-two I’ve ever played’
Harry Kane, who scored with the rebound of his saved penalty in extra time, said: “Unbelievable. What a game, a tough game. Credit to Denmark – they put on a really tough game for us. But we dug deep and we got there when it mattered.
“I thought the boys were excellent all over the pitch, we reacted really well to going 1-0 down. A final. At home. What a feeling.
“It wasn’t the best executed penalty I’ve ever had. But that’s football. Sometimes you miss and it falls your way. And, thankfully, it did today.”
On the penalty, Kane added: “Damn right it’s the best one-two I have ever played. It was a bonus to see it bounce back.
“This is right up there in my career, the first time in our history to get to a European final. It’s one of the proudest moments in my life, for sure.”
Walker: ‘Tonight it swung our way’
Kyle Walker said of the winning goal: “Listen, things swing your way, things don’t. I’ve been in football matches where it hasn’t and tonight, if you’re saying it was a 50-50 call, it swung our way.
He added of Sunday’s final: “I’ve been very fortunate to pick up a few medals over the years. But I can assure you that this one, for your country, is something special, is something so close to your heart.
“We all need to cherish this moment. But we all need to concentrate now. It’s one last step, one last step to make history for this country and get some credit that we deserve, really.”
Neville: ‘National holiday, enjoy yourselves’
Gary Neville, the former England defender, called for a national celebration as he and other television pundits joined in with the crowd’s singing at Wembley.
“We have never done this before in our lifetimes,” said Neville. “We have had so much pain, so much dismay and so much let-down, and now we are going to a final. For the next few days those lads have got to focus, but we don’t have to. This country is absolutely bouncing. National holiday, enjoy yourselves.”
On BBC Radio 5 Live, former England winger Karen Carney described Southgate’s team as a “family” as the squad celebrated on the pitch.
“Do you know who’s made me emotional? Gareth Southgate,” said Carney. “He’s gone to the fans, he’s walked round and he’s in there with them. This is a team. Actually it’s not a team, it’s a family.
“They’re all together, they’re all in front of their friends and their family, they probably haven’t seen them because of the quarantine. They are absolutely all together in this moment. I have got goosebumps.
“This feeling, wow. In time we’ll always go ‘where were we?’ and this is so emotional down here. Gareth Southgate went up to Raheem Sterling and gave him the biggest cuddle I’ve ever seen. It’s magical. Absolutely magical.”
Richards: ‘The officials have got that decision wrong’
BBC pundit and former Manchester City defender, Micah Richards, also expressed sympathy for Denmark.
“We’ve got to say it how it is,” he said. “They go to VAR, and I can’t see how that’s not overturned. I don’t know if the crowd had a part to play in it because they were shouting and the roof absolutely lifted when Sterling went down. I think the officials have got that decision wrong.”
Richards’ ITV counterpart, Lee Dixon, said on commentary: “I’m not so sure there’s an awful lot of contact. The referee’s vision is spot on but I can’t see there’s any contact.”
Keys: ‘Make Var deliberations audible’
Richard Keys, the former Sky Sports presenter who is now with beIN Sports, accused Raheem Sterling of diving and called for Var deliberations to be audible. He argued that the system had “failed” the game. “Anyone that doesn’t condemn Sterling for his dive is kidding themselves,” he said. “We must be allowed to listen to Var/ref convos.”.
The rest of football
Ozil: ‘A doubtful penalty?’
Former Arsenal player Mesut Ozil questioned whether England’s penalty was correct, but congratulated the country anyway on their Euro 2020 semi-final win.
Schmeichel: ‘Referee made a big mistake’
Former Manchester United and Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, and father of last night’s beaten keeper Kasper, said that his phone had been inundated with messages condemning the penalty decision.
“Everyone says that it is not a penalty,” he said. “This will be debated for a very long time. It’s a hard one to take. It’s not a penalty. I would have been much more relaxed and accepting if they scored one of the many chances they created. Unfortunately the referee made a big mistake. Anyway, we are very proud of the Danish team – we leave the tournament with honour.”
Wenger: ‘No penalty’
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger also questioned the call to award Raheem Sterling a penalty.
“No penalty,” Wenger said. “In a moment like that I don’t understand why they don’t ask the referee to have a look at that and to have a clear view. It’s important that the referee must be absolutely convinced it was a penalty and I don’t understand why the Var did not ask him to look at it.”
Mourinho: ‘Never a penalty’
Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham manager, said that the best team has won but that it was “never a penalty”. He told talkSPORT: “England were fantastic but, for me, it was never a penalty. At this level, the semi-final of the Euros, I don’t understand the referee’s decision and even less why the Var did not bring the referee to the screen. I’m very happy that England won. As a football man, I am disappointed that a penalty was given.”
Sharing the joy
UEFA joined the celebrations, tweeting emotional scenes from Wembley stadium and asking English fans to share their feelings.
The governing body also singled out Harry Kane’s performance. “Involved in the first goal, scored the all important second and made England history in the process. Harry Kane = Star of the Match. Did you predict that?”