Football

Euro 2020: Coach Hjulmand hails players for creating Danish fairy tale

Denmark's coach Kasper Hjulmand said their stunning progression to the last 16 of the European Championship was just reward for his players, who have stuck to their task following teammate Christian Eriksen's cardiac arrest against Finland.

Denmark thumped Russia 4-1 in Copenhagen in their final Group B game yesterday morning (Singapore time), and profited from a 2-0 win by Belgium over the Finns to finish second and set up a last-16 clash with Wales on Saturday.

Key midfielder Eriksen collapsed on the pitch in the team's opening 1-0 loss to Finland before recovering in hospital, but Hjulmand said that rather than deflating his side, the incident had brought them closer.

Mikkel Damsgaard and Yussuf Poulsen put Denmark two up before Russia's Artem Dzyuba converted a penalty. Andreas Christensen and Joakim Maehle then made it 4-1.

Hjulmand hailed his players and said he had to stop them from celebrating prematurely at the final whistle until they knew for sure that Belgium had won, which is why they formed a circle to check the score on a mobile phone in the middle of the pitch.

"The circle was because I thought it would be crazy to run around and celebrate. What if Finland scored two quick goals? So we just needed that result to be confirmed and as soon as it was, we could let go," he said.

On their next opponents Wales, who reached the Euro 2016 semi-finals, he said: "It will be an equal game." - REUTERS

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