Harry Kane scored a 104th minute goal to give England a 2-1 win over Denmark on Wednesday nigth and end a 55-year wait for his country to qualify for the final of a major football tournament.
Kane slotted home the rebound after Denmark keeper Kasper Schmeichel had saved his spot kick after Raheem Sterling went down under a slight contact in the Danish penalty area and the Dutch referee pointed to the spot.
It was harsh on Schmeichel, who was magnificent all game, and the penalty will no doubt lead to plenty of comments, but the result did justice to an England side that totally dominated the second half and extra time of the match.
The game got off to a high energy start with England looking to impose themselves and pin the Danes back in their own half.
A low cross from Harry Kane just evaded Raheem Sterling, who then cut inside only to shoot tamely at Schmeichel, before Kane hit a powerful shot well over. Denmark then began to work themselves into the game with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg working Pickford from outside of the penalty area and the England keeper then conceded a corner after a poor clearance.
They were nervous minutes for the majority of the 70,000 fans in Wembley as Denmark took control and Mikkel Damsgaard curled a shot wide of Pickford’s goal.
The Danish forward made no mistake in the 30th minute with a vicious free kick from 25 meters which flashed past Pickford to put Denmark ahead.
It was the first goal England had conceded in all of the competition, but they were level in the 39th minute; Bukayo Sako did magnificently down the right to collect a pass from Kane and his low cross for Sterling, who moments earlier had seen Schmeichel save from point blank range, was turned into his own net by Simon Kjaer.
The second half was also played at a ferocious pace with both sides swapping chances in the opening minutes; Harry Maguire was booked for a challenge on Kjaer after a free kick and then saw Schmeichel get across to tip away his header from a corner.
At the other end Pickford got down to deny Dolberg, who then fired another effort straight at the England keeper.
England were getting more and more on top, with Schmeichel tipping over a cross from the hard-working Mason Mount and Sterling having a shot blocked from the resulting corner, although the Danes always looked as if they could threaten on the break.
The half ended with England controlling the ball in and around the Danish area, but they were unable to find a clear chance against the massed Danish defense and the game went into extra time.
Schmeichel was the hero again with a low save from Kane in the 93rd minute and even stopped his 104th minute spot kick after Sterling went down under a slight contact, but he could do nothing to stop the England captain slotting home the rebound to end a 55-year wait for his country.
XINHUA | LONDON