Finland claimed a 1-0 victory over Denmark in their opening Euro 2020 match, on an evening which saw the football world come together in support of Inter midfielder Christian Eriksen.
The first 45 minutes saw the traumatic event unfold, with Eriksen collapsing near the corner flag in clear need of immediate medical attention. Heroic paramedics administered CPR to the Dane for over 10 minutes on the pitch, while his teammates stood and created a barrier to protect their friend and colleague.
Eriksen was stretchered off the field, and the match was temporarily postponed. However, the game went ahead later in the evening, after news arrived that the 29-year-old was conscious and recovering in hospital.
The second half was understandably played at a slower tempo, but Finland took the lead on the hour mark when Joel Pohjanpalo rose highest to nod home an excellent Jere Uronen cross. Denmark were presented with a chance to equalise from the spot, but Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s penalty was saved by Lukas Hradecky.
Finland held on to claim a famous victory, on an evening that will not be remembered for the football, but for the wellbeing of Eriksen and the heroic actions of his teammates and medical staff.
At this point, we’d usually rate the players – but out of respect for both teams, there will be no such critique of their displays on an extremely difficult night.
Kasper Schmeichel (GK) – A hero. Unfortunate not to stop the opener, allowing the ball to squirm over the line. It goes without saying that in normal circumstances, he saves it.
Daniel Wass (RB) – Tasked with getting up that right wing and causing some problems, Wass did well on the whole.
Simon Kjaer (CB) – His exploits during the traumatic scenes before half-time speak not only of a man, but a hero. Potentially saved a life with his actions today.
Andreas Christensen (CB) – Did not look quite as assured in the second half – to be expected of such a young man in an awful situation.
Joakim Mæhle (LB) – Did well in the toughest circumstances.
Christian Eriksen (CM) – Our thoughts are with you, Christian. We wish you a speedy recovery.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (CM) – Had a chance to equalise from the spot, but couldn’t beat Hradecky with his penalty. Continued to battle on, as you’d expect. Not to be judged at all.
Thomas Delaney (CM) – Did his best in trying circumstances, until he was substituted on 76 minutes.
Yussuf Poulsen (RW) – Won the penalty with some trickery inside the box.
Jonas Wind (ST) – Dropped in deep to link up the play and bring his teammates into the game. The chances never quite fell his way.
Martin Braithwaite (LW) – Frightened Finland with his speed down the left flank, running directly at the defence and getting shots away.
Mathias Jensen (CM)
Andreas Skov Olsen (ST)
Jannik Vestergaard (CB)
Jens Stryger Larsen (RB)
Andreas Cornelius (ST)
Lukas Hradecky (GK) – Kept extremely busy early on, pulling off three or four smart saves to stop Finland falling behind. Made an excellent save from the spot to maintain his side’s lead.
Joona Tolivio (CB) – Led the defence well and maintained their shape. Repelled Denmark’s pressure with authority.
Paulus Arajuuri (CB) – Committed the foul for the penalty, although he may feel hard done by. Had his goalkeeper to thank for the big save.
Daniel O’Shaughnessy (CB) – Produced some brave back-post defending to deny Poulsen in the first half. Solid and resolute throughout.
Jukka Raitala (RWB) – Stuck to his task and helped supply some ammunition further up the pitch. Effective at both ends.
Robin Lod (CM) – Never far from the action, giving Denmark plenty to think about.
Tim Sparv (CM) – An excellent first half, biting into tackles and intercepting some dangerous passes. Same again in the second.
Glen Kamara (CM) – Very busy and effective in the midfield, putting pressure on Denmark’s central stars. Tidy on the ball.
Jere Uronen (LWB) – Curled in a lovely cross for Pohjanpalo to power home with his head. A famous contribution for his nation.
Joel Pohjanpalo (ST) – A special moment for a player and a nation on a horrific evening. Nice downward header, and did everything right.
Teemu Pukki (ST) – Plugged away up top, dropping in to provide some help to his midfield and to get the ball moving out wide. A typically canny performance from the Norwich star.
Joni Kauko (CM)
Rasmus Schüller (CM)
Marcus Forss (ST)
Leo Vaisanen (CB)