Joel Pohjanpalo’s 59th minute header gave Finland a 1-0 win over Denmark and their first ever triumph in the final stage of a major football tournament on Saturday night in Copenhagen, but the opening game for both teams in the European Championships will almost certainly be remembered for another reason.
The match was dominated by a single incident which had football fans all around the world in shock after Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch in the 42nd minute of the game.
Eriksen passed out minutes before half time and his shocked team-mates formed a shield around him as a member of their medical staff appeared to perform CPR on him. The 29-year-old received treatment for around 10 minutes before being carried from the pitch, with his team-mates holding sheets to shield him, reports Xinhua.
Simon Kjaer and Kasper Schmeichel were seen comforting his distraught partner, Sabrina Kvist Jensen.
A photo published online shortly afterwards showed Eriksen to be conscious and both UEFA and the Danish FA confirmed that the player was “awake” and that his condition had “been stabilsed,” although he will need to undergo tests in hospital.
UEFA later reported that after a meeting between both teams and referee Anthony Taylor both sides had asked to finish the match, with the Danes saying they wanted to win it for their companion.
Until Eriksen’s collapse, Finland goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky had been the man of the match with saves from Jonas Wind, Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Hjobjerg, as Denmark dominated with Teemu Pukki isolated in attack for Finland.
The game restarted with the remaining minutes of the first half played ahead of a five-minute break before the second half kicked off.
Denmark completely controlled the ball but failed to test Hradecky again, although they had chalked up 19 shots by the time Joel Pohjanpalo managed Finland’s first. Such is football that Pohjanpalo’s header, following Jere Urenon’s cross from the left, ended up in the back of the net as Schmeichel was unable to get down on time and the Finns took the lead.
Denmark controlled the game but without threatening to score until the 72nd minute when they were given a penalty following Paulus Arajuuri’s clumsy challenge on Yussef Poulsen. Hojbjerg stepped up to take it, but his timid spot kick was easily saved by Hradecky.
Under normal circumstances, Eriksen would have taken the penalty, but what happened earlier in the game shows there are many things worse than a missed penalty.