Soccer·EURO 2020 ROUNDUP

Finland beats Denmark after Christian Eriksen's collapse

Joel Pohjanpalo scored and Lukas Hradecky saved a penalty to give Finland a 1-0 victory over Denmark on Saturday in a European Championship game overshadowed by Christian Eriksen's collapse on the field.

Belgium's Lukaku sends heartfelt message to Eriksen during victory over Russia

Finland's Joel Pohjanpalo (20) celebrates after scoring his side's only goal during his team's victory over Denmark in their Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match in Copenhagen on Saturday. (Martin Meissner/The Associated Press)

Joel Pohjanpalo scored and Lukas Hradecky saved a penalty to give Finland a 1-0 victory over Denmark on Saturday in a European Championship game overshadowed by Christian Eriksen's collapse on the field.

The game was suspended for about 90 minutes after Eriksen needed urgent medical treatment near the end of the first half before being taken to a hospital. The Danish soccer federation said Eriksen was awake and in stable condition.

"Of course you can't play a game with such feelings," Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said. "What we tried to do was incredible. It's incredible that the players managed to go out and try to play the second half and still be dominant. I'm very affected myself."

When play resumed, Pohjanpalo put Finland ahead against the run of play in the 60th minute when he rose above Joakim Maehle to head home a cross from Jere Uronen. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel got his hands on the ball but couldn't keep it out.

It was Finland's only effort on goal in the entire game as Denmark dominated throughout and finished with 23 total shots, although only six were on target.

The Danes' best chance came when they were handed a penalty after Yussuf Poulsen went down under a challenge from Paulus Arajuuri. But Hradecky dived to his left to stop a tame effort from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the 74th.

Finland was making its debut at a major tournament but what should have been the biggest win in the country's soccer history was completely overshadowed by Eriksen's medical emergency.

"It's been definitely one of the most difficult games of my career," Finland forward Teemu Pukki said. "We decided to do what the Danish team decided to do. ... It wasn't easy to come back to the pitch. But once we heard everything seemed to be fine we started concentrating again on the game. And in the end we are proud of the victory. But the atmosphere after the game is definitely not as glorious as usual."

Eriksen was given urgent medical attention on the field for about 10 minutes before he was carried off on a stretcher. The teams held an emergency meeting and decided to continue the match after it became clear that Eriksen was in stable condition.

Hjulmand said he was given the option of finishing the game on Saturday or resuming on Sunday.

"The players couldn't imagine not being able to sleep tonight and then having to get in tomorrow, get on the bus and play a game," Hjulmand said. "Honestly, it was best to get it over with."

Denmark captain Simon Kjaer, who is close friends with Eriksen, couldn't go on for long, though. He was substituted in the 63rd minute.

"Simon was very, very affected," Hjulmand said. "I can't imagine playing a football game myself after that. He was overwhelmed, they are very good friends."

Denmark had dominated the first half until the incident, and forced three decent saves from Hradecky in the opening 20 minutes. Jones Wind first tried a hard shot from the edge of the area, before Hradecky tipped a header from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg over the bar and then palmed away a dipping long-distance shot from Eriksen in the 19th.

The Danes then failed to test Hradecky again until the penalty save.

At the final whistle, Finland's players celebrated loudly in front of their fans, while Denmark's hugged on the field.

Lukaku sends message to Eriksen as Belgium downs Russia

Romelu Lukaku's first thought after scoring at the European Championship wasn't to celebrate with his Belgium teammates.

Instead, the striker wanted to send a heartfelt message to a close friend who was in the hospital.

"Chris. Strength, boy. Love you," Lukaku said straight into a TV camera at Saint Petersburg Stadium in a mixture of English and Dutch, his touching words directed at Denmark player Christian Eriksen.

Lukaku had taken the field in Belgium's 3-0 win over Russia on Saturday only a short time after seeing Eriksen, his teammate at Italian champion Inter Milan, fall to the ground and require urgent medical attention during Denmark's game against Finland in Copenhagen.

Lukaku was watching the match with the rest of the Belgium squad. He said he cried.

"I was scared, obviously," he said. "You live strong moments together. I spent more time with him than with my family."

Lukaku said it had been "difficult to play because my mind was with" Eriksen.

"I hope he is healthy," he added, "and I dedicate this performance to him."

The former Manchester United striker didn't just stop at one goal against Russia. By slotting home a second in the 88th minute, Lukaku made it 62 goals in 93 international appearances and wrapped up a comfortable victory that validated top-ranked Belgium's status as one of the favorites at Euro 2020.

It was all the more impressive given the Belgians were without playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, who wasn't deemed ready after a minor operation on a fractured nose and eye socket, and with captain Eden Hazard only playing the final 19 minutes as a substitute.

Belgium also had to deal with the withdrawal of right wing back Timothy Castagne in the 26th minute after he clashed heads with Russia midfielder Daler Kuzyaev. Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said Castagne had sustained a double fracture of his eye socket and has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament.

Castagne's replacement, Thomas Meunier, scored Belgium's second goal in the 34th minute.

"We looked like a team that was very concentrated for 90 minutes," Martinez said. "The win will allow us to grow into the tournament as a team."

While the win was hardly unexpected — Russia lost to Belgium home and away in qualifying — the ease with which the Belgians swept aside the home team was surprising.

Up to Lukaku's opening goal in the 10th minute, it had been a celebratory atmosphere among the heavily pro-Russian crowd of 26,264 spectators. Aside, that is, from just before kickoff when there were loud jeers around the stadium as Belgium's players took a knee.

Music was played while the gesture against racism was taking place, but the boos were still audible.

Lacking his ideal supporting cast, Lukaku still managed to score in each half, though he was given a helping hand by Russia's defense.

Andrei Semenov was at fault for the first goal, miskicking while attempting to clear a cross from the right. The ball fell loose in the area and Lukaku pounced, finding the corner with a low finish.

Another mistake, this time by goalkeeper Anton Shunin, allowed Meunier to double the lead. Thorgan Hazard's in-swinging cross was parried weakly by Shunin and Meunier slid his shot from the rebound into an unguarded net.

Kuzyaev initially played on after his clash with Castagne but went off himself a few minutes later, the first of five substitutions — the maximum allotted — made by Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov by the 63rd minute.

Belgium centre back Jan Vertonghen also went off with an apparent leg injury in the second half but Martinez said it wasn't serious.

Moore's late header gives Wales draw with Switzerland

With his head wrapped in bandages the same colour as his red shirt, Keiffer Moore nodded in an equalizer to give Wales a 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Saturday at the European Championship.

The goal off a cross from Joe Morrell in the 74th minute hinted that Wales could again be a surprise contender at Euro 2020, like it was five years ago when the team reached the Euro 2016 semifinals.

For Moore, it was the biggest step so far in a long journey to soccer's elite after starting in the non-league system in southwest England.

He nearly gave Wales a lead with a looping header which Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer stretched to push over the bar, but he was hurt in a clash on the resulting corner. Moore left the field bleeding and returned in bandages, but was largely cut out of the game as Wales defended deeper in the first half.

Switzerland dominated possession but wasted numerous chances before Breel Embolo scored the opening goal in the 49th minute. First he won a corner when his shot was pushed wide after a solo run, then rose above his marker to head in a cross from Xherdan Shaqiri.

Kieffer Moore celebrates his game-tying goal against Switzerland during Wales 1-1 draw in Group A, opening-round action at Euro 2020 on Saturday. (Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press )

The Swiss pushed for a winning goal after Moore's header and thought they had one when Mario Gavranovic put the ball in the net, but it was ruled offside on video review.

Italy leads Group A with three points after its 3-0 win over Turkey on Friday. Wales and Switzerland have one point each.

WATCH | Canada ready for World Cup qualifying against Haiti:

Canada ready for World Cup qualifying against Haiti

Sports

2 months ago
6:27
John Molinaro joins Signa Butler to talk about Canada's run in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, how they stack up against Haiti and where Alphonso Davies should play 6:27

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now