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England in Euro 2020 final: ‘England rode their luck, but Southgate captured the mood’

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England manager Gareth Southgate was the model of restraint and calm until he reached the vast bank of supporters gathered at one end of Wembley belting out their new anthem Sweet Caroline with glorious, noisy abandon.

The noise hit Southgate. The emotion hit Southgate. And maybe the history he and his England players had just made hit Southgate.

The wait was over. The sweet release of 55 years of England's men's football teams coming up short was pouring out in a frenzied, celebratory cacophony after the nerve-shredding tension then joy of the Euro 2020 semi-final win over Denmark after extra time.

Southgate, whose first move in victory was the typically classy and modest consolation of opposite number Kasper Hjulmand, let rip with a volley of fist pumps and clenches towards the night skies that drew a deafening response from the biggest crowd Wembley had seen since lockdown and those soulless lockdown days of empty stadiums.

Not for the first time, Southgate had captured the national mood perfectly.

Good times never seemed so good for England – listen to the latest Daily Euros podcast

When Dutch referee Danny Makkelie sounded the final whistle that confirmed England's place in their first major final since the World Cup win against West Germany in 1966, the stadium exploded in a wall of sound.

And the soundtrack for the finale was inevitably Three Lions – the much-sung, but often misunderstood lament, to England's years of disappointment penned before Euro 96 that has often been mistaken for arrogance.

"Football's coming home" bounced off the walls of Wembley at deafening decibel levels. It is not coming home yet but England will be back in their own house against Italy on Sunday with the best chance since 1966 of making it happen.

And the extent of what it meant could be seen before, during and after a game that was the perfect occasion as fans returned in their thousands, with attendances finally edging towards capacity after the months of lockdown.

The sound of the voices of players and managers reverberating around empty grounds has slowly been replaced with the familiar noise of fans, but there has been nothing like this with England at this Wembley – but then again there has been nothing like this in England for 55 years.

Even before the game, there was an electricity this newer version of the national stadium has not experienced or produced.

It may have been the added excitement of so many England fans being able to watch their heroes in the flesh again after so long but there was a buzz and noise an hour before kick-off that never let up until long after final whistle, and the songs of celebration had been replaced by the hum of lawn-mowers in readiness for Sunday's final.

From late afternoon to kick-off time, anticipation, expectation and excitement were almost tangible in and around the stadium.

The sun shone. The songs rang out. All it needed was the victory that had agonisingly escaped England's grasp for so long.

Those of us who have spent many years following the falls and fortunes of England teams at home and abroad dredged the memory bank to recall anything similar in recent memory for an international match here without success.

Neil Diamond's unlikely singalong has assumed such a status among England fans it was the last song played before the emergence of the teams and the roars barely dimmed, even when Southgate's side fell behind.

Sport always has the capacity to lift the spirits and the return of fans, the inspiration and atmosphere they create, has not been better illustrated than on this highly charged and ultimately triumphant night.

As England's players and their animated (for Southgate at least) manager made their way around a lap of appreciation, there was an unmistakeable bond between supporters and team that started to be forged with that surprise run to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018.

England's entire squad, along with backroom and support staff, sang in unison with fans who were high on the emotion of victory, one the country had waited so long for, one many always thought might remain tantalisingly out of reach.

These were scenes being replicated by thousands around the country way beyond Wembley and the streets outside, where the choruses of joy could still be heard long after the final whistle.

Yes, England rode their luck.

Denmark complained bitterly that Raheem Sterling had gone down far too easily under the challenge of Joakin Maehle, and Harry Kane – normally that most reliable of penalty takers – had a huge reprieve when an awful spot-kick was saved by the brilliant Kasper Schmeichel.

The rebound fell invitingly at Kane's feet for arguably the most important England goal since Sir Geoff Hurst made sure it was indeed all over in the 4-2 win over West Germany in the World Cup final.

England may feel they were due a bit of good fortune after the decades of disheartening disappointment.

Some fans could not even look as Kane stepped up, lifting their gaze from the shock of the missed penalty to see the captain fire in the goal that confirmed a place in the Euro 2020 final – that simple phrase alone sounding so sweet to the ears of everyone who has lived through this broken dream on so many occasions.

Who can blame those inside this cauldron and every supporter outside for drinking it in?

It has only happened twice, Southgate joining Sir Alf Ramsey as the only England manager to take them to a major final.

He deserved this.

England's manager has history with Euro semi-finals at Wembley but now he can finally, finally, move on from his missed penalty in the shoot-out against Germany in 1996. He has created new, more glorious memories to expunge that moment of misery with the power to add even more on Sunday.

Southgate has had his doubters but this is most spectacular confirmation. He has followed up a World Cup semi-final with a Euro 2020 final. Untold riches for England in the modern era.

Gareth Southgate admits he got carried away celebrating after reaching the Euro 2020 final

It seems an age away that the ludicrous Twitter hashtag #southgateout was trending when his team-sheet landed for the opening game against Croatia. It was the knee-jerk world of social media opinion at its very worst, and made to look even more nonsensical now.

Southgate ignores such noise, trusts his instincts and his team.

He did so again on Wednesday, especially when he introduced the current people's favourite Jack Grealish to run Denmark ragged, then once a lead was established substituted the substitute with defender Kieran Trippier to close things down in what became an England masterpiece of game management until this draining experience was over.

How everyone inside Wembley celebrated. How everyone outside Wembley who supports England celebrated. It was a landmark moment, one to treasure forever if you are an England player or follower.

And one of the most poignant and emotional moments amid the celebrations came when England's players gathered in front of the section of the ground housing their families and friends, joined in song with their loved ones.

The song? Sweet Caroline, obviously.

Will England's players and fans be singing again on Sunday? Who knows?

The good news after the most momentous and memorable occasion this newer Wembley has hosted is they have the chance – the first in 55 years.

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Comment posted by Insert funny name here, at 01:44 8 JulInsert funny name here

01:44 8 JulYou English aren’t half good at playing your achievements down… Denmark scored from a dodgy free kick, Kane wasn’t awarded a stone wall penalty, England dominated from about 65 minutes onwards inc. all through extra time. Totally deserved winners. Great performance. Denmark were worthy opponents, but clearly the better team won.1168103D

Reply posted by Dallas Cowboys Liverpool FC, at 03:05 8 JulDallas Cowboys Liverpool FC

03:05 8 Julto Insert funny name here"You English aren’t half good at playing your achievements down… Denmark scored from a dodgy free kick, Kane wasn’t awarded a stone wall penalty, England dominated from about 65 minutes onwards inc. all through extra time. Totally deserved winners. Great performance. Denmark were worthy opponents, but clearly the better team won."Dallas Cowboys Liverpool FC replied: A good sensible summary of the match.
England will need to up their game if they are to win on Sunday.41224More replies (110)downP

Comment posted by Phil_, at 01:17 8 JulPhil_

01:17 8 JulTo save the trolls some time:

1) If England lose a group stage game, they did it to get an easier draw

2) If England win a group stage, they did it to get an easier draw

3) All teams that we play are the weakest ever in history

4) Hate England and must troll again soon

There, I think that’s covered it, you can thank me later after you’ve rested your fingers. Great game, well played both teams92393Removed commentMore replies (87)downJ

Comment posted by Jay, at 01:35 8 JulJay

01:35 8 JulGareth & the lads so far..

Topped the group
10 Goals
1 Conceded
0 Loses
0 Suspensions
Beat 2018 World Cup finalists
Beat Germany 2.0
Beat a quality Danish team
Consecutive major tournament Semi Final
First Final since 1966
Best defense in the tournament
Great morale in the camp

Well done Gareth, the lads, & all the backroom staff 👏🏼71847C

Reply posted by Colin The Truth, at 01:57 8 JulColin The Truth

01:57 8 Julto Jay"Gareth & the lads so far..Topped the group 10 Goals1 Conceded0 Loses 0 Suspensions Beat 2018 World Cup finalistsBeat Germany 2.0 Beat a quality Danish team Consecutive major tournament Semi Final First Final since 1966Best defense in the tournamentGreat morale in the camp Well done Gareth, the lads, & all the backroom staff 👏🏼"Colin The Truth replied: All games at home, diving all over the place, laser pointers, lucky easy draw. There I fixed it for you.180796More replies (88)downF

Comment posted by Full throttle pork chop, at 01:13 8 JulFull throttle pork chop

01:13 8 JulI’m a Kiwi who lived in the UK for a long time. I’m just so bloody happy for everyone over there – it’s been a long time and you’ve had more than your fair share of heartache and unlucky misses over the years so congratulations to all of you! Good luck Gareth and team and get that silverware back where it belongs – all the best!66834Removed commentMore replies (25)downD

Comment posted by dan, at 01:08 8 Juldan

01:08 8 JulRode our luck? We were the better team for 105 minutes of the game and only let in a screamer of a free kick.

0 goals conceded from open play, digging deep when needed, this team has made the whole country proud.

One more game to go!57048P

Reply posted by paul hirst, at 01:15 8 Julpaul hirst

01:15 8 Julto dan"Rode our luck? We were the better team for 105 minutes of the game and only let in a screamer of a free kick.0 goals conceded from open play, digging deep when needed, this team has made the whole country proud.One more game to go!"paul hirst replied: Couldn’t agree more, Phil coming up with another ridiculous headline. First goal we’ve conceded was an outstanding free kick. And Schmeichel was MOM…when your goalkeeper is your best player on night it tells you how the game went.36216More replies (26)downJ

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Comment posted by jprswalker, at 01:22 8 Juljprswalker

01:22 8 JulDo you think the Argentinians look back on Maradona’s hand of God moment and go, well to be fair chaps we didn’t deserve to win the World Cup that year… do they ‘eck!!!

Over the entire game we deserved the victory, we’ve said that so many times and still come up short. Not this time. Onto the final. Onto Italy. May the best team win.42221D

Reply posted by daiboy, at 01:33 8 Juldaiboy

01:33 8 Julto jprswalker"Do you think the Argentinians look back on Maradona’s hand of God moment and go, well to be fair chaps we didn’t deserve to win the World Cup that year… do they ‘eck!!!Over the entire game we deserved the victory, we’ve said that so many times and still come up short. Not this time. Onto the final. Onto Italy. May the best team win."daiboy replied: Sterling the cheat just like Maradona cannot stand cheats should be banned from the game139544More replies (59)downG

Comment posted by Goldwatch, at 01:16 8 JulGoldwatch

01:16 8 JulRode our luck??? Rubbish. Best team on the day. Penalty was fortunate but then we were denied a big penalty call in the first half. We had chances to put the tie out of reach of a brave, well organized Denmark side, and if anything I would say Denmark rode their luck with a few of those. Respect to all the players. Credit to Southgate. He got us the result.32232Removed commentMore replies (11)downO

Comment posted by OmNom, at 01:16 8 JulOmNom

01:16 8 JulCredit where credit’s due – Southgate got his substitutions spot on. He saw the Danes were tiring, delayed the subs, then finally made changes – and we swamped Denmark. They spent most of the last hour in their own half.29012K

Reply posted by KLOPP OUT, at 02:05 8 JulKLOPP OUT

02:05 8 Julto OmNom"Credit where credit’s due – Southgate got his substitutions spot on. He saw the Danes were tiring, delayed the subs, then finally made changes – and we swamped Denmark. They spent most of the last hour in their own half."KLOPP OUT replied: Or…we have a decent team who beat a tinpot country who got 3 points in the groups. 🤷49281More replies (29)downS

Comment posted by shadow warrior, at 01:30 8 Julshadow warrior

01:30 8 JulIt was a great game, very tight second half

England were fitter , so dominated the later stages of the game

Denmark can be proud of what they did in the tournament after losing the first two games and one of if not their best player

Full respect to Denmark

On to the Final21212S

Reply posted by Sams Town, at 01:37 8 JulSams Town

01:37 8 Julto shadow warrior"It was a great game, very tight second halfEngland were fitter , so dominated the later stages of the gameDenmark can be proud of what they did in the tournament after losing the first two games and one of if not their best playerFull respect to DenmarkOn to the Final"Sams Town replied: Agree England were very dominant in extra time, we should remember that’s not an easy thing to do.1257More replies (15)downM

Comment posted by Mr_Zurkon, at 01:14 8 JulMr_Zurkon

01:14 8 Jul25 years since a missed penalty caused agony for Southgate, another missed penalty caused joy. It’s a funny old game19611Y

Reply posted by Youwhat, at 01:47 8 JulYouwhat

01:47 8 Julto Mr_Zurkon"25 years since a missed penalty caused agony for Southgate, another missed penalty caused joy. It’s a funny old game"Youwhat replied: Wat a time to be alive eh 😭👌🏽4611More replies (3)downS

Comment posted by Skid_Diggler, at 01:33 8 JulSkid_Diggler

01:33 8 JulHarry Kane’s little one two with Schmeichel for our second gol was class16220N

Reply posted by Notsure, at 07:40 8 JulNotsure

07:40 8 Julto Skid_Diggler"Harry Kane’s little one two with Schmeichel for our second gol was class"Notsure replied: That really made me chuckle when the commentator said that!295More replies (3)downT

Comment posted by Tom the modest bloke, at 01:21 8 JulTom the modest bloke

01:21 8 JulI’m sitting here at 1.18am drinking a brandy cause I can’t sleep because what the guys have done. Amazing! Unprecedented!16628B

Reply posted by Badger, at 01:27 8 JulBadger

01:27 8 Julto Tom the modest bloke"I’m sitting here at 1.18am drinking a brandy cause I can’t sleep because what the guys have done. Amazing! Unprecedented!"Badger replied: Well done…enjoy!!689More replies (17)downT

Comment posted by TheRawcs, at 01:22 8 JulTheRawcs

01:22 8 JulNice guys can succeed and Gareth is proof of that..Don’t be fooled though cos behind that nice guy image is a steely passionate man wanting redemption for hurt he suffered in a certain penalty shoot out…He’s done a fantastic job and one more hurdle to go.1358D

Reply posted by Dallas Cowboys Liverpool FC, at 03:35 8 JulDallas Cowboys Liverpool FC

03:35 8 Julto TheRawcs"Nice guys can succeed and Gareth is proof of that..Don’t be fooled though cos behind that nice guy image is a steely passionate man wanting redemption for hurt he suffered in a certain penalty shoot out…He’s done a fantastic job and one more hurdle to go."Dallas Cowboys Liverpool FC replied: It’s almost home, just one more step to go.398More replies (7)downI

Comment posted by incredulous, at 01:24 8 Julincredulous

01:24 8 JulEngland were due some luck.
Probably not a penalty but you make your own luck in this game.
Definitely the better team, attacked with intent and when that happens you get decisions.
Big game next will take an even better performance to triumph
Such a likeable group – Southgate, Rashford, Sterling – finally leaders and people we want our kids to look up to.14726D

Reply posted by daiboy, at 01:31 8 Juldaiboy

01:31 8 Julto incredulous"England were due some luck. Probably not a penalty but you make your own luck in this game. Definitely the better team, attacked with intent and when that happens you get decisions. Big game next will take an even better performance to triumph Such a likeable group – Southgate, Rashford, Sterling – finally leaders and people we want our kids to look up to."daiboy replied: How is cheating making you’re own luck sterling and grealish constantly diving and kane throwing himself to floor and the ref fell for it var was slagged off for getting it wrong and it still gets it wrong sterling was never touched but went down like being shot by a sniper cannot stand cheats England played a little better than the datnes but won by cheating it proved they willwin at all costs81333More replies (56)downS

Comment posted by shadow warrior, at 01:22 8 Julshadow warrior

01:22 8 JulI am happy for all the good England fans that always get behind their team, its a real roller coaster of a ride with our media, haters and usually poor team spirit

We have made a major final

Italy will take some beating and will be well up for this1154E

Reply posted by esc, at 12:42 8 Julesc

12:42 8 Julto shadow warrior"I am happy for all the good England fans that always get behind their team, its a real roller coaster of a ride with our media, haters and usually poor team spiritWe have made a major finalItaly will take some beating and will be well up for this"esc replied: The good old England fans? They’re an absolute disgrace with booing during national anthems and using a laser pointer4420More replies (7)downD

Comment posted by Dizzee69, at 02:09 8 JulDizzee69

02:09 8 JulRode our luck?

Their keeper made some great saves
We dominated possession
We dominated shots
They dominated fouls (21 v 10)

It would have been criminal for England not to win11413C

Reply posted by CVF, at 07:17 8 JulCVF

07:17 8 Julto Dizzee69"Rode our luck?Their keeper made some great savesWe dominated possessionWe dominated shotsThey dominated fouls (21 v 10)It would have been criminal for England not to win"CVF replied: It was criminal that Sterling dived for a penalty.51115More replies (11)downJ

Comment posted by Jay, at 01:36 8 JulJay

01:36 8 JulWell done & congratulations Gareth, the lads, & all the backroom staff!

Plus big respect to Denmark, even without their top scorer Eriksen & being a nation of only 6million, they have much talent. An entertaining game.

Bring on Sunday, Ciao Italia 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿🇮🇹1067C

Reply posted by CVF, at 07:10 8 JulCVF

07:10 8 Julto Jay"Well done & congratulations Gareth, the lads, & all the backroom staff! Plus big respect to Denmark, even without their top scorer Eriksen & being a nation of only 6million, they have much talent. An entertaining game. Bring on Sunday, Ciao Italia 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿🇮🇹"CVF replied: Indeed and Denmark achieved all that without resorting to diving.4293More replies (16)downB

Comment posted by Biggles, at 01:59 8 JulBiggles

01:59 8 JulRaheem Stirling’s penalty looked dubious, but the tackle on Harry Kane certainly deserved one, so in the end, justice was served.9611F

Reply posted by Fee Fee, at 06:50 8 JulFee Fee

06:50 8 Julto Biggles"Raheem Stirling’s penalty looked dubious, but the tackle on Harry Kane certainly deserved one, so in the end, justice was served."Fee Fee replied: I’m pretty sure that Kane was not given a penalty because he caught a Dane himself just before that contact in the area. Yes, the Sterling penalty was ‘soft’ but the better team on the evening won.449More replies (3)downI

Comment posted by IDrinkYourMilkshake, at 01:17 8 JulIDrinkYourMilkshake

01:17 8 JulProbably the Scots wouldn’t like it if they made it this far by having such an “easy route”.

Thankfully, they’ll never…

ever…

ever…

find…

out.11337B

Reply posted by Badger, at 01:22 8 JulBadger

01:22 8 Julto IDrinkYourMilkshake"Probably the Scots wouldn’t like it if they made it this far by having such an “easy route”.Thankfully, they’ll never…ever…ever…find…out."Badger replied: You still haven’t beaten them at home!!!2670More replies (24)downB

Comment posted by Bentyb, at 01:19 8 JulBentyb

01:19 8 JulIt’s crazy how something as simple as a couple of men kicking a ball around can make you so emotional…but it does. Whatever happens on Sunday it’s been an amazing journey and I don’t want it to end!7215I

Reply posted by IDrinkYourMilkshake, at 01:22 8 JulIDrinkYourMilkshake

01:22 8 Julto Bentyb"It’s crazy how something as simple as a couple of men kicking a ball around can make you so emotional…but it does. Whatever happens on Sunday it’s been an amazing journey and I don’t want it to end!"IDrinkYourMilkshake replied: It’s not going to end! GS and his warrior poets will tie this thing up on Sunday and then set their sights on the big one next year.5015More replies (10)downMore commentsBack to topunknown
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