Dominant Denmark thrashed Wales 4-0 to sweep into the European Championship quarter-finals on Saturday and continue a wave of positive emotion generated by sympathy for Christian Eriksen.
The midfielder, who is recovering from a cardiac arrest during Denmark’s opening game, was remembered at the start of the last 16 game in Amsterdam, again inspiring teammates.
Forward Kasper Dolberg struck in each half while Joakim Maehle and Martin Braithwaite also scored late on as Denmark overpowered Wales 4-0 to reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.
Dolberg, making his first start of the tournament, gave his side the lead with a fine individual goal in the 27th minute, curling into the top corner from outside the area.
He doubled Denmark’s advantage in Amsterdam early in the second half, ruthlessly pouncing on a loose ball after Wales failed to clear a cross following a galloping run down the right wing from Dolberg’s strike partner Martin Braithwaite.
Braithwaite missed a glaring opportunity to add to Denmark’s lead but Maehle sealed the win in the 88th minute.
Wales’ frustrations spilled over when Harry Wilson was sent off for a wild tackle on Maehle in added time.
Braithwaite finally got the goal he had craved by netting at the death, though he had to wait for the goal to be awarded following a lengthy VAR review.
Victory takes Denmark into the continental last eight for just the second time since their surprise title win in 1992 and sets up a date in Baku with the Netherlands or the Czech Republic next Saturday.
Denmark, who have captured the support of many neutrals since Eriksen’s cardiac arrest earlier in the tournament, were playing away from Copenhagen for the first time in the tournament but could still count on loud support.
Thousands of Danes descended on the Dutch capital and outnumbered their Welsh counterparts at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Wales had a flurry of early attacks and talisman Gareth Bale nearly gave them an early lead when he went for goal from range and narrowly missed the target.
Kasper Hjulmand’s side were also without their injured striker Yussuf Poulsen, who had scored in the 2-1 defeat to Belgium and thumping 4-1 victory over Russia which propelled them into the last 16.
Yet in a sign of the team’s unity, the player joined his team on the pitch to sing the national anthem before kick-off, standing side-by-side with the substitutes and coaching staff.
Dolberg more than compensated for Poulsen’s absence, firing Denmark ahead after Wales had made the stronger start.
Denmark hardly looked back from then on, dominating possession and chances as Wales failed to recreate the fighting spirit of their famous run to the semi-finals in France five years ago.
“It’s completely crazy. I actually don’t know how I feel. This is total madness. It’s surreal. It was here it all started for me, and to play here again in this setting was insane,” Dolberg, who previously played for Ajax, told Danish broadcaster DR.
Meanwhile, Welsh captain Bale said his players were “frustrated and angry, but I’d rather we go out like that kicking and screaming than laying off and doing nothing”.
“We’ve missed an opportunity but one thing we can’t fault is the effort the boys showed. I’m still so proud of them.”