Euro Flashback: Denmark untroubled by England en route to glory
Throughout Euro 2020, we have been looking back at classic games from previous tournaments. Today's featured match is Denmark’s 0-0 draw with England in 1992 — the last time tonight’s two semi-finalists met at a European Championship.
Euro 92 is remembered rather differently in Denmark and England.
For the Danes, it is their greatest ever tournament — but it has well and truly been consigned to the annals of history by their semi-final opponents tonight.
Those memories are a far cry from what the expectations of both nations were going into the competition.
There was optimism in England following the Three Lions’ superb World Cup showing at Italia 90, where they reached the semi-finals two years earlier.
In contrast, Denmark were happy just to be at the Euros — they had failed to qualify initially but were called up at short notice to replace Yugoslavia, after the political situation in the Balkans saw them disqualified.
Injuries have an impact
A spate of injuries left England severely depleted ahead of their opening match against Denmark.
Manager Graham Taylor was already missing long-term absentee Paul Gascoigne and endured a crisis at right-back, as both Lee Dixon and Rob Jones were ruled out of the competition.
That was compounded when fellow right-back Gary Stevens was injured in a pre-tournament friendly against Finland and star man John Barnes also had to withdraw from the squad.
England were a team in transition and Barnes’ absence hit them hard.
Taylor had chosen to go to Sweden without midfield maestro Chris Waddle and long-serving creator Bryan Robson had retired from international duty.
The Three Lions had a handful of chances to break the deadlock in their opener against the Danes, but were unable to find a way past goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.
Alan Smith went close in the first half before Tony Daley’s shot was saved by Manchester United custodian Schmeichel.
Defences on top
Despite expectations of an England win, it was Denmark who came closest to taking the lead.
Flemming Povlsen had sounded the alarm bells when his early free-kick narrowly missed the target, but it was future Arsenal man John Jensen who went within inches of making it 1-0.
Jensen's powerful shot cannoned off the far post before being claimed by a relieved Chris Woods in the game’s closing stages.
Ultimately neither team could make a breakthrough, resulting in a scoreless draw that was received far better in Denmark than it was by the English media and supporters.
That point was one of just two that England would pick up at Euro 92 — drawing 0-0 with France before a 2-1 defeat to Sweden saw them finish bottom of Group 1.
It was to get even worse for Taylor’s outfit when they failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup two years later.
Conversely, things could not have gone much better for Denmark.
Three points versus France meant they qualified through the group in second place, before beating the Netherlands on penalties in the semi-finals and winning the whole competition with an iconic 2-0 triumph against Germany in the final.
The Danish dynamite will be looking for a repeat performance at Euro 2020 — starting with victory over England at Wembley tonight.