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Finland snatches Euro win after Eriksen collapse drama

By AFP - Jun 13,2021 - Last updated at Jun 13,2021

Finland’s goalkeeper Lucas Hradecky reacts after saving a penalty kick against Denmark during their UEFA EURO 2020 Group B match in Copenhagen on Saturday (AFP photo by Friedemann Vogel)

COPENHAGEN — Finland beat Denmark 1-0 in its opening match of Euro 2020 which was overshadowed by Christian Eriksen collapsing and having to be revived on the field by medics.

Joel Pohjanpalo scored the only goal on the hour mark of a Group B match which was stopped for nearly two hours after Danish playmaker Eriksen slumped to the turf towards the end of the first half.

There were fears for his life as he was given CPR by medics on the pitch as his teammates, some distraught, formed a circle around him.

The stadium had fallen into a shocked silence as the medics worked but Eriksen was eventually carried off the field at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen and a photo showed him apparently holding his head as he laid on the stretcher.

The Danish Football Union (DBU) said the Inter Milan player was awake and had been able to speak to teammates.

“We’ve been in contact with him, and the players have spoken to Christian,” DBU director Peter Moeller told Danmarks Radio.

“That’s the great news. He’s doing fine, and they are playing the game for him,”

The match, which had kicked off at 18:00 local time (16:00 GMT), resumed two-and-a-half hours later in front of a passionate crowd at the Parken Stadium.

Chants of “Christian” and “Eriksen” from both sets of supporters rang around the stadium as news of his status began to filter through to supporters.

The two teams played out an uneventful final few minutes of the first half after both sets of players returned to the pitch with several Danish players in tears.

After a short break of five minutes the second half of the match continued with a similar pattern as before Eriksen’s collapse, with Denmark pressing Finland back but failing to find a way past the opposition defence and Finnish ‘keeper Lukas Hradecky.

Pohjanpalo stunned the crowd into silence with when he headed home Jere Uronen’s cross, capitalising on Finland’s one true chance of the game.

Shorn of the creativity of their shining light Eriksen, the Danes struggled even more to break down the tightly-organised Finns and looked as though they would need some good fortune to get something from the match.

They thought they had got it when Yussuf Poulsen was brought down in the area by Paulus Arajuuri in the 73rd minute, but Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s weak spot-kick was easily saved by Hradecky.

The Danes piled on the pressure but apart from a few skirmishes in the box failed to cause their opponents much trouble and had to deal with defeat which will likely seem unimportant given what happened earlier in the evening.

 

‘Brave’ Wales

 

Wales captain Gareth Bale said his side were “brave” in the 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their opening game of Euro 2020 in Baku on Saturday.

Striker Kieffer Moore, standing at 1.95m tall, equalised in the 74th minute after Breel Embolo opened the scoring just after the break.

“We’re not too disappointed with the draw, it could have been worse,” Bale told S4C.

“They’re a top 10 team in the world, they’re there for a reason so we knew in parts we would have to suffer and work hard as a team.

“The best thing for us was to go 1-0 down. We showed a lot of character, like we always do, to fight back, be brave, get on the ball and get the equaliser.”

Switzerland striker Mario Gavranovic had a potential winner chalked off by VAR for offside after he had edged ahead of Wales back four.

“Over the past year I’ve hated VAR but by now, I love it now, fair play,” Wales midfielder Joe Allen said.

“VAR for life.”

 

Lukaku double

 

Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Belgium made a strong start to Euro 2020 on Saturday with a 3-0 victory over a disappointing Russia in Saint Petersburg.

Lukaku celebrated his 10th-minute first goal by shouting a message of support into the camera for his Inter Milan teammate Christian Eriksen, who is awake in a Copenhagen hospital after collapsing during Denmark’s game against Finland.

Belgium, the world’s top-ranked side, wrapped up an impressive win with Thomas Meunier’s 34th-minute effort and Lukaku’s late second.

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