Patrik Schick’s fifth goal at Euro 2020 was not enough to inspire a comeback as Denmark beat the Czech Republic 2-1 to take their place in the semi-finals.
Schick joined Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the scoring charts with his fifth goal of the tournament early in the second half in Baku.
Yet he will have no further opportunity to add to his tally, as a fantastic first-half performance, which included goals from Thomas Delaney and Kasper Dolberg, ensured Denmark reached the last four of a Euros for the first time since they won the 1992 edition.
Kasper Hjulmand’s team, whose tally of 11 goals trails only fellow semi-finalists Spain, will face either England or Ukraine next.
Approximately 1,500 Danish supporters were able to make the trip to Baku, and they were celebrating within five minutes.
Jens Stryger Larsen’s corner – which should not have been awarded – found Delaney unmarked, and the Borussia Dortmund midfielder made no mistake with a brilliant header.
On his 21st birthday, Mikkel Damsgaard just failed to squeeze a finish beyond Tomas Vaclik from a tight angle, before Stryger Larsen and Delaney combined for another chance – the latter scuffing wide.
Dolberg made no such mistake three minutes before half-time, however, as he cushioned home from Joakim Maehle’s exquisite, outside-of-the-foot cross from the left.
Antonin Barak drew a fine save out of Kasper Schmeichel following the restart, with Simon Kjaer then getting a vital block on Schick’s overhead kick.
Yet the Czech Republic’s pressure told in the 49th minute – Schick placing a measured first-time finish into the bottom-left corner after being found by Vladimir Coufal.
Tomas Soucek made a brave block to deny Yussuf Poulsen just after the hour, though the Czechs were dealt a blow when Ondrej Celustka succumbed to injury.
Poulsen was let off the hook for another miss when Kjaer cleared in front of a gaping goal soon after, and with Schick going off with an apparent injury late on, Denmark held firm to book their spot at Wembley.
What does it mean? Danes get their revenge
This was the third meeting between the Czech Republic and Denmark at the European Championship – the Czechs had won both previous games, 2-0 in the Euro 2000 group stages and 3-0 in the 2004 quarter-final.
But Denmark were in inspired form in the first half to gain revenge in the sweetest of fashion, and the pre-tournament dark horses – shorn of course of their standout player in Christian Eriksen – will be dreaming of replicating their 1992 triumph. Whatever happens from now on in, it has been a remarkable story so far.
Dolberg flying high
After his double in Amsterdam, Dolberg – typically Denmark’s second-choice forward – was in the right place to nudge in from Maehle’s wonderful delivery.
Dolberg is the first Denmark player to score three goals at a single major tournament since Jon Dahl Tomasson at Euro 2004, while he joins Tomasson, Brian Laudrup, Frank Arnesen and Henrik Larsen as the nation’s joint top scorer in the European Championship.
Schick’s efforts not enough
He may well end up sharing the golden boot, but Schick’s attempts to propel the Czechs into the latter stages ultimately fell short.
No player has had more shots (16), shots on target (nine) or scored more goals (five) at the tournament than the Bayer Leverkusen forward, whose 79th-minute substitution will surely have deflated the Czech Republic.
Key Opta Stats: Denmark end 29-year wait
– Denmark will feature in the semi-final of a major competition for a fourth time, with each occasion coming at the European Championships (also 1964, 1984, 1992).
– Their 29-year gap between European Championship semi-finals (1992 to 2021) is the longest ever by a single nation in the competition, surpassing England’s 28-year wait from 1968 to 1996.
– Denmark have won three consecutive games at the European Championships for the very first time, and only the second time at any major competition, having previously done so at the 1986 World Cup.
– Delaney scored his first goal in 20 appearances for Denmark. It was the 24th headed goal at Euro 2020, now the most such strikes in a single European Championship edition, overtaking the 23 notched in 2016.
– Excluding own goals, only Germany in 2012 have ever had more different scorers at a single European Championship (8) than Denmark (7) this year.
While the Czech Republic must lick their wounds but reflect on a promising run, Denmark face a long trip over to London, with England or Ukraine awaiting at Wembley on Wednesday.