Denmark’s last group game in Copenhagen was always going to be an emotional wringer. After all, they’ve been through, and all the fans have witnessed, with their advancement hopes riding on not just their result but the one from the Belgium-Finland game, it set up to be a night full of torture, glory, euphoria, despondence, or maybe all of it.
And that’s actually how it played out, as the Danish crowd was treated to the gamut of sporting emotions this time. Denmark definitely needed to win, and likely needed a two-goal margin to advance out of the group. They got the opening goal through Mikkel Damsgaard, which was hardly a tap-in:
A huge mistake from Russia allowed Yussuf Poulsen an actual tap-in, which very well might have given us the image of the tournament as Poulsen was showered with beer as he celebrated what he thought was the goal that would take Denmark through:
But things are never so simple. Denmark gave away a penalty, which Russia’s Artem Dzyuba converted, making it only a one-goal lead. Which still had the Danes on a knife’s edge, given that Finland was only a shot away from getting a draw with Belgium.
Step up Andreas Christensen to wipe those fears away in the most authoritative fashion possible:
Webster’s should use video of this goal and celebration as the official definition of “catharsis.” Perhaps it should be called a “Bronze,” as it’s the exact goal that Lucy Bronze crashed in against Norway in the last World Cup. It makes for a nice duet with Jakob Glesnes’s goal yesterday.
Denmark would add a fourth, and advance out of the group as runners-up and sets up a Round of 16 match with Wales in Amsterdam. One can’t help but smile, if not outright hysterically cackle, at the Danes’ accomplishment. Even if you somehow can put the trauma of Christian Eriksen to the side, and you can’t, UEFA’s decision to have them continue a match they clearly weren’t in any place to play really put them behind the eight-ball for the tournament. This decisive and moving win lands them where most would have predicted they would be before the tournament — runners-up to Belgium, with an excellent chance to go further against a dogged but limited Wales team.
Watch the celebrations after the Christensen goal, or at the final whistle, and tell me sports don’t matter.