FRANKFURT: Denmark’s Morten Hjulmand (not pictured) scores past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during their Euro 2024 Group ‘C’ match at the Frankfurt Arena on Thursday.—Reuters
FRANKFURT: Denmark’s Morten Hjulmand (not pictured) scores past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during their Euro 2024 Group ‘C’ match at the Frankfurt Arena on Thursday.—Reuters

FRANKFURT: England missed the chance to book their place in the knockout stage of Euro 2024 after they were held to a 1-1 draw against Denmark in Group ‘C’ on Thursday.

England took the lead in the 18th minute after the rapidly advancing Kyle Walker caught Danish defender Victor Kristiansen ambling towards the ball and the full back’s low deflected cross into the box fell to captain Harry Kane who slotted it in.

However, Gareth Southgate’s side failed to press home their advantage, and a sloppy throw-in 16 minutes later came to Morten Hjulmand who had time and space to smash the ball low and in off the post from long range.

Euro 2020 runners-up England had been touted as tournament favourites yet struggled to fashion decent chances throughout the match. They remain on top of Group ‘C’ on four points, while Denmark are second on two after Slovenia’s 1-1 draw with Serbia earlier.

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel claimed on the eve of the game they would not be fuelled by revenge for their Euro 2020 semi-final heartbreak to England three years ago.

However, the Danes were a different beast from the side that disappointed at the 2022 World Cup and in drawing against Slovenia to open their tournament in Germany.

Denmark had made the brighter start as both sides struggled to cope with a bobbly pitch in Frankfurt that cut up badly in just its second game of five at Euro 2024.

Yet, England capitalised on a howler to take the lead. But Denmark were not deterred by conceding and got it thanks to a spectacular strike by Hjumland.

Phil Foden hit the post for England and Denmark’s Andreas Christensen came close to a late winner in the second half.

But a share of the spoils leaves it all to play for in the final games of Group ‘C’ on Tuesday.

Jovic snatches late equaliser

Earlier, Serbia substitute Luka Jovic headed a last-gasp equaliser to cancel out Zan Karnicnik’s opener and salvage a draw with Slovenia in an absorbing clash in Munich.

Both sides hit the woodwork and had periods where they dominated possession and created chances at the Munich Football Arena in a game that swung from end to end at times.

Slovenia remain unbeaten and still firmly in contention to progress to the knockout stage of the tournament. For Serbia, the point also bolstered their hopes of progressing ahead of their final match in the section against Denmark.

Just like in their 1-0 opening defeat against England, Serbia started slowly and handed the initiative to Slovenia, who broke the deadlock in the 69th minute with a brilliantly worked goal from Karnicnik.

Right-back Karnicnik drove upfield from the edge of his own penalty area, released the ball to Timi Elsnik and then met the return cross to slot the ball past Predrag Rajkovic.

Serbia ratcheted up the pressure looking for an equalizer and they finally levelled when Jovic nodded home a corner five minutes into added time to leave their opponents distraught.

“We will not give up, the result came as a reward for believing. For many the match was over but for us it was not,” said Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic. “[With Denmark] it will be us or them. We will play an open game.”

Ahead of the match, the head of the Serbian football association had threatened to pull the team out of the European Championship over chants made during Wednesday’s draw between Albania and Croatia, including: “Kill, kill, kill the Serb”.

Jovan Surbatovic — the General Secretary of the Football Association of Serbia (FSS) — told Serbian broadcaster RTS late on Wednesday the FSS would seek sanctions from UEFA “even at the cost of not continuing the competition.”

Swiss on the verge of last 16**

In Wednesday’s late fixture, Switzerland moved within touching distance of a place in the last 16 as Xherdan Shaqiri’s stunning strike earned a 1-1 draw against Scotland.

Murat Yakin’s side trailed to an early Scott McTominay goal that took a hefty deflection off Swiss defender Fabian Schar.

But Shaqiri produced one of the goals of the tournament so far as the former Liverpool forward punished Anthony Ralston’s woeful backpass with a brilliant curler from 20 yards.

With honours even in Cologne, the Swiss sit in second place in Group ‘A’ with four points, two behind Germany after the hosts beat Hungary 2-0 earlier on Wednesday.

Switzerland, who defeated Hungary 3-1 in their opener, are not mathematically certain to advance to the knockout stages but they are in a strong position heading into their last game against Germany.

“Shaqiri proved tonight that he lives and breathes for moments like that,” Yakin said. “He really deserves that magical moment. He did the only thing he could do with that wonderful strike. It’s still very open. We will do everything we can to make it out of the group.”

With the best four third-placed teams qualifying for the last 16, Scotland remain in the hunt to reach the knockout rounds of a major tournament for the first time.

Steve Clarke’s team restored their pride with a battling display that erased the bitter taste of a wretched 5-1 loss to Germany in the tournament opener and a historic last 16 berth is still a possibility if they can improve their goal difference with a big win against Hungary.

“It was a good reaction to a disappointing night against Germany,” Clarke said. “I believe if we get three points against Hungary, we’ll go to the next stage. We’re a good team and we’re still alive.”

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2024

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