England is through to the European Championship final after beating Denmark 2-1 in extra time.
A penalty rebound converted by Harry Kane gave England a deserved 2-1 win over Denmark in their Euro 2020 semi-final to set up a home showpiece against Italy on Sunday.
Kane saw his 104th minute penalty – controversially not overturned by video review, despite Raheem Sterling going down under minimal contact from Joakim Maehle – saved by Kasper Schmeichel but made no mistake with his second attempt.
England ended a 55-year wait to reach a major final. One more win will end the same drought since its one and only trophy, the 1966 World Cup – also lifted at Wembley.
Denmark’s fairytale run since the collapse of Christen Eriksen with cardiac arrest in its opening game ended despite Mikkel Damsgaard’s brilliant free kick giving it a 30th-minute lead.
But Simon Kjaer’s own goal levelled matters before the break and with England dominant, the winner was a matter of time in coming, even if Denmark survived the initial 90 minutes.
The vast majority of the 65,000 crowd inside Wembley – the biggest attendance at a British sporting event since the coronavirus pandemic began – could not hide their delight at seeing England continue its progress, which was fully merited despite the disputed nature of the winning goal.
The influential Sterling cut in from the right and tumbled but was well on the way to the ground even before he was grazed by Maehle.
Contact, however slight, was enough to convince the review the decision was not clearly mistaken. Kane took full advantage for his fourth goal of the tournament.
Sterling insisted Maehle “touched my leg so it was a clear penalty”.
“It was a top performance – we had to dig in deep after the first goal we conceded in the tournament, and we regrouped well and showed a good team spirit to come back and win the game,” Sterling said.
“It was difficult going behind but we knew we had to stay patient – we knew with the legs we’ve got, the aggressiveness and the power we have in the team, it would be a matter of time before we broke them down.”
Denmark, playing on a wave of emotion since Eriksen’s collapse, started slowy but gradually turned matters. Young talent Damsgaard had already curled wide before finding the net with a beautiful free-kick over the wall.
It was England’s first goal conceded in the tournament and in a total of 691 minutes – though by then keeper Jordan Pickford had narrowly broken England’s personal clean sheet record by six minutes of World Cup winning goalie Gordon Banks, who didn’t concede for 720 minutes in May-July 1966.
Sterling was denied an equaliser by a point-blank Schmeichel save but his presence awaiting Bukayo Saka’s cross forced Kjaer into a 39th minute own goal.
It was the 11th own goal of the tournament. There had been only nine combined at every previous edition since 1960.
Denmark’s tiring legs conceded possession and territory to England, which did, however, struggle to create.
Defender Harry Maguire’s header was superbly clawed out by Schmeichel – whose father Peter was a Denmark hero in the Euro title win of 1992 – and extra-time loomed.
Schmeichel denied captain Kane and substitute Jack Grealish while Sterling fired over from the edge of the box.
Eventually the pressure told though and England’s Wembley exploded with equal measure of joy and relief.
England faces Italy in the final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday (local time).