Kasper Dolberg became the first Denmark player to score twice in a European Championship game since 2012.
As news trickled in of Yusuf Poulsen’s unavailability for the Round of 16 encounter between Denmark and Wales, the Danish fans were left in a state of complete shock. Poulsen had been a vital member of the squad, which had been already forced to come to terms with the unavailability of playmaker Christian Eriksen for the rest of the tournament. The new player in: Kasper Dolberg was playing his first game in the ongoing edition, which was definitely not a good sign considering the fact that it was a knockout encounter. There was no room for error or nervousness, which is usually the case with players making their maiden appearance.
However, Dolberg who was returning to his old home ground Johan Cruijff ArenA, having been an AFC Ajax player at one stage, seemed to be breathing fire. The attacker had represented Ajax 119 times over three years, scoring 45 goals from 2016 to 2019. The same intensity seemed to be surging through his veins as Dolberg recorded the nation’s first goal in the knockout stage of the Euros since the 1992 final.
Mikkel Damsgaard laid the ball off for the former Ajax footballer on the edge of the box and to the left of the goal. The Nice striker took a couple of touches before engineering a shooting opportunity to let fly a beautiful curling effort into the far corner. Dolberg scored from his first shot in the ongoing edition, against an opposition that had kept nine clean sheets in their last 13 competitive matches. Wales had further conceded more than one goal in only three of their previous 23 international fixtures.
Dolberg made it four matches out of a total of 24 early in the second half, putting the tie to bed with a fantastic effort. Martin Braithwaite ran down the right before delivering a low pass into the box. Wales sub Neco Williams attempted to clear but could only direct it as far as the Nice forward. Dolberg took a touch with his left foot, before smashing a right-footed strike underneath the Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward.
Denmark continued to push for further goals despite the two-goal advantage, denying the opposition an opportunity to hit back. The intensity paid off in the 88th minute as full-back Joakim Maehle scored the third goal for the Dales, followed by a fine goal from Braithwaite. Denmark have reached the quarter-finals in any edition of the Euros, for the first time since 2004 following the 4-0 win.
Wales superstar Gareth Bale was making his 96th appearance for Wales, moving him joint-second with goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey in the nation’ all-time appearance list. Bale could well go on to surpass the leader in the list Chris Gunter who has 102 caps.
However, the Real Madrid footballer failed to make much of an impact when it mattered the most, with Dolberg delivering the goods despite being the lesser popular player on the pitch. This is certainly an alarming sign for fans of the player, with a sharp decline witnessed in his ability to emerge as a game-changer.
While Denmark will be overjoyed after the solid performance, Wales certainly need to come up with new plans.