ON JULY 26, 1966, England created history when two Bobby Charlton goals earned them a 2-1 victory against Portugal and a place in their first tournament final.
It was a little more straightforward for Sir Alf Ramsey’s men at the old Wembley Empire Stadium that night, compared to Wednesday’s 2-1 extra-time win against Denmark, as a goal in each half from Charlton gave England a 2-0 lead, before Eusebio pulled a goal back late on from the penalty spot.
Victory against Denmark ensured a first European Championships final appearance and a first tournament final at the new Wembley for Gareth Southgate’s side against Italy on Sunday.
There is something different about this England side. Since 1966, the best the various England managers have achieved is a handful of near misses in semi-finals, but victory against Denmark owed much to Southgate’s game management.
After a bright start by England, Denmark started to cause them problems. Southgate had already anticipated that his side would face some adversity prior to the start of the game.
Mikkel Damsgaard gave Denmark the lead with the tournament’s first goal direct from a free-kick in the 30th minute.
It was the first time England had conceded at Euro 2020 and also meant England were behind in the tournament for the first time, but they hit the boost button and were rewarded with an equaliser nine minutes later.
Raheem Sterling had just been denied at close range by Kasper Schmeichel, then Bukayo Saka’s cross from the right was turned into his own goal by Denmark captain Simon Kjaer under pressure from Sterling.
The second half was a tense affair, but England looked the most likely of the two nations to find a late winner – and they were in front 13 minutes into the first half of extra-time. Sterling went down under a challenge and Kane scored his fourth goal of the tournament at the second attempt from close range, after Schmeichel had parried his spot kick.
Having used up the maximum six substitutes, Denmark were forced to play the final 15 minutes of extra-time with 10 men after Mathias Jensen picked up an injury. That helped England’s cause, of course, but so did Southgate’s decision to replace substitute Jack Grealish with defender Kieran Trippier.
Denmark’s 10 men were tired, but they barely had a chance to attack in the second period of extra-time, as England put on an impressive display of keep ball.
Kane is now level with Gary Lineker as England’s top tournament goalscorer with 10 goals and his fourth goal of the tournament means he is the top goalscorer of the remaining players and still has a chance to claim the tournament’s Golden Boot.
Despite conceding his first England goal for 725 minutes, Jordan Pickford is already guaranteed to win the Euro 2020 Golden Gloves award after his five clean sheets.
EURO 2020 SEMI-FINALS
Italy 1-1 Spain (aet – Italy won 4-2 on penalties)
Chiesa 60 / Morata 80
Penalty shoot out (Italy first): Locatelli missed (0-0), Olmo missed (0-0), Belotti scored (1-0), Gerard scored (1-1), Bonucci scored (2-1), Thiago scored (2-2), Bernardeschi scored (3-2), Morata missed (3-2), Jorginho scored (4-2)
England 2-1 Denmark (aet)
Kjaer 39 og, Kane 104 / Damsgaard 30
Sunday (Wembley, 8pm kick-off)
Italy v England
EURO 2020 TOP SCORERS (players in bold represent nations still involved)
5 goals – Patrik Schick (Czech Republic), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
4 goals – Harry Kane (England), Romelu Lukaku (Belgium), Karim Benzema (France), Emil Forsberg (Sweden)
3 goals – Raheem Sterling (England), Kasper Dolberg (Denmark), Alvaro Morata (Spain), Georginio Wijnaldum (Netherlands), Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Haris Seferovic (Switzerland), Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland)
MOST TOURNAMENT GOALS FOR ENGLAND (players in bold are current England players):
Harry Kane 10, Gary Lineker 10, Alan Shearer 9, Wayne Rooney 7
MOST ENGLAND GOALS AT ONE TOURNAMENT:
Harry Kane 6 (2018 Word Cup), Gary Lineker 6 (1986 World Cup), Alan Shearer 5 (Euro 96)
MOST EUROS GOALS FOR ENGLAND:
Alan Shearer 7, Wayne Rooney 6, Harry Kane 4, Raheem Sterling 3, Frank Lampard 3
MOST ENGLAND GOALS AT ONE EUROS TOURNAMENT:
Alan Shearer 5 (1996), Harry Kane 4 (2020), Wayne Rooney 4 (2004), Raheem Sterling 3 (2020), Frank Lampard 3 (2004)