After a tense, emotional rollercoaster of a night at Wembley, England overcame a defiant Denmark to secure a place in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday. I appreciate this is not fenestration related in the slightest, but given the magnitude of the achievement, and joy it will bring to millions, who cares!
Euro 2020 final
After 55 years, Euro 96 heartbreak, a World Cup semi-final and the Nations League semi-final, England broke the hoodoo to secure their place in the Euro 2020 final.
It was an intense game. I watched it at home on the sofa. In terms of quality, I’m not sure it was the best of games, but then again semi-finals are nervy occasions so a five-star performance was perhaps never going to happen. The same could be said for the Danes. They had periods of the game where they were the better team, but were never the dominant side.
England finally conceded a goal, but it was from a superb free-kick. Some said Pickford could have done better. I think that’s a harsh assessment. The ball was dipping hard and the wall was in the way, impairing Pickford’s vision. England has still not conceded a goal from open play. Their solid defence is going to be vital in the final.
That goal only prompted a swift fightback, with Sterling narrowly missing a chance minutes after, only for his pressure to force an own-goal minutes after that. It was fully deserved and Sterling once again proved why he is so vital to the team. Whilst he does like to try and walk the ball through a defence, his close skill on the ball and speed makes him constantly dangerous and draws fouls in key areas for England. He has had to deal with horrible abuse for far too long. Hopefully his performance for England this year will go some way to end it.
Although England pressed, we could not do it in the 90 minutes. So extra time ensued. As did the nerves as the nation thought back to all the times we came so close. In the end, there was no need to worry. England were all over Denmark from the 75th minute and all the way through extra time. The Danes were spent and the England bench was able to provide that vital boost at the end of the game to overpower the opposition. Sterling won a penalty in the first half of extra time. Was it a bit soft? Yes. But England’s constant pressure deserved a reward, and they had it.
Up stepped Harry Kane, who was finally finding some form as the tournament progressed. A penalty. That most dreaded of set-pieces. He steps up. It’s saved. Then Kane hammers in the follow-up and the country goes nuts!
Spencer, our little lad, was up at this point. He’s only two, and can’t quite figure out why Daddy is so nervous. I watched the penalty with me while I was holding him and up and down as much as I was. When he’s a bit older and understands the game a bit more I’ll explain to him how important that moment he watched was.
The second half of extra time was all England. The Danes had the wind knocked out of them and England was stuck between deciding whether to hold on to the ball or press for another goal. In truth, they could have had a couple more if they wanted to, but there was little risk of them conceding at this point in the game.
As the final whistle blew, jubilation and relief swept across the country as England managed to do what they had not done in 55 years and reach the final of a major tournament.
Something to savour
For the last 18 months, the entire planet has been swallowed up by the pandemic. Lockdowns, isolation, crushed economies. It’s been one of the toughest periods for many millions of people. The joy that this is going to bring to England fans will be immeasurable.
The magnitude of what was achieved last night can only be measured in decades. Many who are alive right now were not alive to witness the last major final England were part of. The Euro 2020 final is going to be a moment for England and indeed the UK to focus totally on something else. To forget about what is going on in the world and immerse themselves in the build-up and anticipation of the event on Sunday.
TV, radio and online is going to be swimming in football coverage. Squad members will be in the spotlight. Viewing parties will be being planned. This is going to be the major event of the year. There will be a GDP bounce because of it. Not that it matters so much, rather the joy and elation this final will bring is more than enough.
I foresee businesses let people come in late on Monday for work, or even to let them have the day off or work from home. Pubs will be packed. Fan parks will be full. Wembley will be full. The hype will be massive. Nothing else is going to matter for those few hours. I can already feel the hairs stand on the back of my neck.
This is something to savour. Whether we win or lose, England is in a final and are giving the country the most joy in years. We all need to enjoy the next few days (if you support England!).
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