Lukas Hradecky’s heroic performance propelled Finland to their first-ever win in Euro, though the result was overshadowed by Christian Eriksen’s fall.
After securing qualification for the first time in their history, Finland kickstarted their European Championship campaign with a 1-0 win over Denmark at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.
The victory should play a major role in the country’s footballing history, but it was a victory that got overshadowed by Christian Eriksen’s terrifying fall to the pitch in the first half, leaving him unconscious.
The Danish playmaker received CPR by the medical team on the pitch, leading many to speculate about his health. The game was halted for a considerable period of time before UEFA announced that the match was suspended.
However, a couple of positive news over Eriksen’s health saw the game being restarted a couple of hours later, at the request of the players and Eriksen himself.
Denmark, who were dominating the game up until that moment, found it difficult to concentrate, though. Although the hosts did dominate possession and probed the Finland defence, they were often left exposed in defence. And they were duly punished when Joel Pohjanpalo found the opener for Finland out of nowhere.
Kasper Hjulmand’s men had the opportunity to get right back into the game after receiving a penalty in the 74th minute. However, the spot-kick was saved by Lukas Hradecky, allowing Finland not only to preserve their lead but get tighter in defence, as they somehow managed to retain their slender lead until the very end.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sets of players in Finland’s 1-0 win over Denmark in Copenhagen this evening.
Kasper Schmeichel: 6/10
Kasper Schmeichel didn’t have much to do for most of the game, as Finland offered very little threat going forward. Unfortunately for Denmark, it was his goalkeeping error that led to Pohjanpalo’s winner as he fumbled and failed to save a straight-headed attempt on goal. Not good enough for a goalkeeper of his calibre.
Simon Kjær for being the first person to initiate CPR.
Kasper Schmeichel for going to console Christian’s wife.
The team for forming a human wall around Eriksen.
Anthony Taylor for stopping the game so quickly
The medics for doing such an incredible job
Thank you. ??
— Jed (@SFCJed23) June 12, 2021
Daniel Wass: 6.5/10
Daniel Wass couldn’t influence the game much from the right-hand side for Denmark. He did offer stability in possession but never really offered the creativity or attacking support that was required.
Simon Kjaer: 6.5/10
Simon Kjaer didn’t have the best of games by his standards, although he did make an excellent recovery to deny Teemu Pukki in the first half. The Danish captain showed his compassion and leadership when Eriksen was receiving treatment but was surprisingly subbed off around the hour-mark.
Andreas Christensen: 6.5/10
Andreas Christensen did well to keep Finland quiet for the most part of the game. It wasn’t the best of performances from the Chelsea defender, though, and in truth, he was helped by the opposition’s lack of desire to attack.
Joakim Maehle: 6.5/10
Joakim Maehle offered good attacking support, making useful runs on the left flank, especially in the first half. However, the full-back was caught out for Finland’s opener, as he wasn’t able to recover in time to deny Pohjanpalo the opener.
Christian Eriksen: N/A
This game was all about Christian Eriksen, who was playing well, even testing Lukas Hradecky once in the first half before suddenly falling on the floor unconscious. It was a terrifying sight for every spectator around the globe, though thankfully, the playmaker is currently admitted to the hospital and is recovering.
"Football is a beautiful game and Christian plays it beautifully," says UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin.
Tonight's Star of the Match is Christian Eriksen. Wishing you a speedy recovery, Christian. #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/gJPa7P2nAx
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 12, 2021
Eriksen even reportedly Facetimed the Danish players, giving them the go-ahead to play the remainder of the game after claiming himself to be okay.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: 6.5/10
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg started the game well, mopping up loose balls and using his aggression to help Denmark dominate the midfield. The midfielder, though, looked dejected after Eriksen’s injury, notably missing the penalty that could have helped his team get back into the game.
Thomas Delaney: 7.5/10
Thomas Delaney was arguably Denmark’s best performer of the night. The midfielder dominated the game right from the beginning, using his aggression and work ethic to good effect. He was also the one to instruct his teammates to form a ring around Eriksen, though his substitution in the second half was surprising.
Yussuf Poulsen: 5/10
Yussuf Poulsen occasionally made runs into the box to supplement Jonas Wind. His physical and aerial prowess, though, was incredibly ineffective up against a Finland side that remained resolute throughout the game. The Leipzig forward deserves to get benched in the next game in favour of a more dynamic presence out wide.
Jonas Wind: 5/10
Heading into the tournament as one of the most interesting players, Jonas Wind could not offer a great deal as the leader of the Danish attack. He was oftentimes ineffective, struggling to break the shackles of the opposition before being subbed off.
Martin Braithwaite: 6.5/10
Martin Braithwaite was actually the pick of the Denmark attackers this evening. While others struggled to influence the game, the Barcelona forward tried his best to make things happen, particularly with his ambitious solo runs that created some openings. His finishing was poor, as ever, though.
Mathias Jensen: 6/10
Mathias Jensen was the replacement for Eriksen but was nowhere as good in offering creativity in the final third. His job was to deliver balls from set-pieces or corner kicks.
Andreas Skov Olsen: 6/10
Andreas Skov Olsen looked very clumsy after coming on for Wind around the hour mark. He lost the ball at least four times, two of them in a very dangerous area.
Jannik Vestergaard: 6.5/10
Jannik Vestergaard came on for captain Kjaer to offer more aerial presence on both ends of the pitch for Denmark. Looked like a genuine threat for Finland too.
Andreas Cornelius: 6/10
Andreas Cornelius, too, was brought in to offer more physical and aerial presence inside the box for the home team. He was barely a challenging marker for the opposing defence.
Jens Stryger Larsen: 6/10
Jens Stryger Larsen was a more attack-minded alternative to Wass in the right-back position.
Lukas Hradecky: 8.5/10
As predicted in our preview, Lukas Hradecky was the player of the match, thanks to a remarkable performance between the sticks. The Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper made multiple saves throughout the game to keep his team in the contest. Although he did look shaky at times, Hradecky’s penalty save was equally important as Pohjanpalo’s winner in helping Finland sealing the victory.
3 – Lukás Hrádecky is only the third goalkeeper to save a penalty on their debut appearance in the European Championships after Przemyslaw Tyton in 2012 (Poland v Greece) and Trols Rasmussen in 1988 (Denmark v Spain). Arrival. #EURO2020 #DEN #FIN pic.twitter.com/ofxyzFIrX3
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 12, 2021
Jukka Raitala: 7/10
Jukka Raitala played the role of a defensive wing-back, mostly retaining his role in the defensive third. He looked troubled against Braithwaite at times but was solid for the most part.
Joona Toivio: 7.5/10
Joona Toivio produced an impressive, hard-working defensive display on the right-hand side of the Finland back-three this evening. He was mostly solid whenever called upon, though perhaps not Finland’s best defender of the game.
Paulus Arajuuri: 8/10
That title goes to Paulus Arajuuri, who made a total of eight clearances in the game. He was an absolute rock at the heart of the Finland backline, taking care of Wind quite well as well as keeping the other attackers quiet.
Daniel O’Shaughnessy: 7.5/10
Daniel O’Shaughnessy also deserves a lot of credit for his defensive performance against Denmark. The Irish-born defender made six clearances, four interceptions while winning all of his ground duels.
Jere Uronen: 7.5/10
As the left-sided wingback, Jere Uronen was given slightly more freedom to march forward out wide. Even though very few of his forays down the flanks turned out to be useful, he deserves credit for providing the excellent cross that led to Pohjanpalo’s opener.
Tim Sparv: 7/10
Tim Sparv was included in the starting eleven despite struggling with injuries in recent times. The experienced operator, though, played rather well, marshalling his troops from the number six position. His leadership was crucial in helping his team maintain a clean sheet.
Glen Kamara: 7.5/10
The Rangers star had a vital role in the middle of the park, mopping up loose balls and hurrying the opposition ball-carriers. A hard-working display from the Finn.
Glen Kamara has the ability, tactical awareness and position discipline to play for any club in England.
Such an intelligent footballer.
— Euan Booth Robertson (@EuanBRobertson) June 12, 2021
Robin Lod: 6.5/10
Robin Lod wasn’t exactly as impressive as some of his teammates in the Finland midfield. He lost possession unnecessarily a few times while failing to offer much creativity going forward.
Teemu Pukki: 5/10
It was an underwhelming display from Teemu Pukki, who was struggling with fitness heading into the game. As such, the Norwich City forward couldn’t unleash his pace much, ultimately enduring a difficult night in front of goal.
Joel Pohjanpalo: 7/10
Joel Pohjanpalo was largely anonymous for most of the game, but he stepped up to the plate when required, latching on to Uronen’s cross to score Finland’s first goal in Euro. Always a threat in the box.
Finland defeated Denmark, 1-0, after the teams resumed their match following Christian Eriksen’s hospitalization.
Joel Pohjanpalo didn't celebrate his goal despite it being Finland’s first at a major tournament. pic.twitter.com/zNBbJmlFfb
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 12, 2021
Rasmus Schuller: 6.5/10
Rasmus Schuller was a direct replacement for captain Sparv during the final phase of the game. He acted as the holding midfielder in the last 15 minutes, screening the backline.
Joni Kauko: 6/10
Joni Kauko added more defensive presence in the Finland side by replacing Pukki in the 76th minute. The move played out rather well for Markku Kanerva.
Marcus Forss: N/A
A late replacement for Pohjanpalo. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Leo Vaisanen: N/A
A late replacement for Raitala. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
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