A fairy tale in Denmark: How an unforgettable night unfolded in Copenhagen

Dates: 11 June-11 July. Venues: Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome, Seville, St Petersburg. Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 Live, iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app. Click here for more details

“They have not done it for themselves, they have done it for one player.”

When Denmark players celebrated their victory over Russia, which sent them through to the last 16 of the European Championship, it was an outpouring of emotion like no other.

After witnessing team-mate Christian Eriksen suffer a cardiac arrest in the same stadium just nine days ago, Denmark’s players and supporters came together on an unforgettable evening in Copenhagen.

With two defeats from their first two games, qualification for the knockout stage had seemed as unlikely as the fairy tales Denmark is famous for.

“It’s a Denmark win for Christian. You can see and hear what it means in Copenhagen,” said BBC commentator Guy Mowbray at full-time.

“It truly is another terrific tale written in the land of Hans Christian Andersen. From tragedy and despair to utter, utter joy. They don’t write them like that often.”

‘We hoped it would be a magic night’

After huddling around a phone to receive confirmation of Belgium’s victory over Finland, which sent the Danes through as runners-up, the players ran over to supporters to celebrate.

“The circle was because I think it’s crazy to run around and cheer without a result in the Finland game,” said boss Kasper Hjulmand.

“We hoped it would be a magic night. I want to say thank you to all the people who have been supporting us and who have shown so much love. I could feel it really affected the players so thank you so much for the support, it means the world to us.

“The motivation, the team spirit, the friendship among the players was amazing. If someone deserves this it’s our players. I can’t imagine how they managed to come back from what they went through.”

There had been ripples of roars late on in the game as news filtered through of Belgium’s lead, while goals from Andreas Christensen and Joakim Maehle capped off a rampant ending to the game.

Yussuf Poulsen found himself drenched in beer after scoring Denmark’s second and there was delirium when youngster Mikkel Damsgaard scored in the first half.

“That is an emotional squad there. They have been through an emotional rollercoaster and it is great to see them go through,” ex-England defender Rio Ferdinand said on BBC One.

Former Lioness Alex Scott added: “This is special. The emotion they must be feeling all around that stadium. To play the way they did in front of those fans and qualify is just magical.”

How events unfolded…

Denmark started the evening bottom of Group B, knowing they needed a victory to stand any chance of qualifying.

Damsgaard made it 1-0 before the break and Poulsen was gifted a second after 59 minutes.

Yussuf Poulsen
Yussuf Poulsen gets drenched in beer during celebrations as Denmark go 2-0 up

With Denmark 2-0 up, Belgium had a goal disallowed for offside – leading to shortlived celebrations from fans in Copenhagen – and minutes later Russia were awarded a penalty for a foul by Jannik Vestergaard.

Russia captain Artem Dzyuba made it 2-1 but Belgium got their breakthrough in the other game four minutes later thanks to an own goal from Finnish keeper Lukas Hradecky.

Denmark players celebrate with the fans
Denmark players ran over to celebrate with their fans immediately at full-time

Denmark fans were roaring their team on and it paid off as Christensen thumped in a third, before Maehle made it 4-1.

Meanwhile, Romelu Lukaku had doubled Belgium’s lead and Denmark waited for the final whistle to go in St Petersburg before hugging in celebration.

Denmark players celebrate
Denmark players receive confirmation Belgium have defeated Finland while watching scores come through on a phone

“They’re clenching their fists so tightly, there’s joy on their faces, tears running down their faces and the manager’s tapping his heart. It’s just great to see. Look at the joy,” former England striker Dion Dublin said on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand
Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand was emotional at full-time

“Look at the smiles on their faces,” former England striker Alan Shearer said on 5 Live. “You can tell what they have been through and how hard they have had to work. They should enjoy it.”

Ex-Germany head coach Jurgen Klinsmann added: “It is wonderful to see Denmark celebrating. They went through an extreme rollercoaster the last few days with what happened with Christian Eriksen and to see them go through is fantastic.”

Christian Eriksen instagram
Christian Eriksen reacted to the victory on Instagram afterwards

Your reaction on social media

Simon: I don’t think anyone, even maybe the Russians and the Finns, are going to be too begrudging of Denmark going through here. The fight and the heart they’ve shown this tournament has been incredible.

Ben: A performance for Eriksen. This is special! This is why football is the greatest sport around.

Martin: We’re all Denmark fans tonight, right? So happy for them. Fancied them to do well before the tournament, and in the face of adversity they’ve got the job done. Brilliant tonight.

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