Harry Kane fires England to Euro 2020 final

Harry Kane was proud England learnt from past mistakes as they ended their 55-year wait to reach only their second major tournament final with an extra-time victory over Denmark at Wembley last night.

Harry Kane of England (obscured) celebrates with team mates after scoring the winning goal. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Kane scored the winning goal despite former Leeds United goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel saving his extra-time penalty.

It is third time lucky for the Three Lions and their captain Kane, who was part of the teams that went out at the semi-final stage of the 2018 World Cup final and the 2019 Nations League, and the Tottenham Hotspur centre-forward says his team-mate will take great belief from how they closed out victory.

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“We said in the build-up we can talk as much as we want about how we’d learnt from 2018 but we had to show it on the pitch,” said Kane, who has now scored four goals in the tournament and will get a share of the golden boot if he scores another in Sunday’s final against Italy.

England's Raheem Sterling celebrates his side's 2-1 win at the end of the Euro 2020 semi-final with Denmark. (AP Photo/Carl Recine, Pool)

Last night was the first time England had gone behind in the tournament, Mikkel Damsgaard scoring a brilliant free-kick, but they showed great maturity to equalise quickly, through a Simon Kjaer own goal, and impressive patience as they pushed hard for a winner in the second half but were unable to beat the inspired Schmeichel.

“We stayed calm, there was no panic, we kept the ball,” said Kane. Schemeichel made a great save from Raheem (Sterling) and we made the breakthrough.

“These games are about digging in and belief, and this will give us more going into the final.”

England will face an Italy side who are unbeaten in 33 games.

England's Harry Kane celebrates winning the UEFA Euro 2020 semi final against Denmark (Picture: PA)

“We know we haven’t won anything yet but you have to enjoy winning,” commented Kane.

“We’ve shown great resilience and we’re a credit to each other.

“There were couple of times when you thought about running into the box but that shows the unselfishness of the team that it was all about winning.”

It was the spirit which impressed Sterling, who was instrumental in Kjaer’s own goal – had the centre-back not put the ball in himself, the forward surely would have – and won the penalty Kane converted.

“It was a top performance – we had to dig in deep after the first goal we conceded in the tournament, and we regrouped well and showed a good team spirit to come back and win the game,” he said.

“It was difficult going behind but we knew we had to stay patient – we knew with the legs we’ve got, the aggressiveness and the power we have in the team, it would be a matter of time before we broke them down.

“We’ve got one more game to go. What a fantastic tournament it’s been so far. We had to dig deep against a very good Denamrk side.

“What an opportunity being at Wembley for our first European Championship final as a nation.”

Unsurprisingly Sterling and Kane both felt the penalty, which was reviewed by the video assistant referee, was the correct decision, with Kane arguing he should have had a penalty earlier in the game.

“I went into the box and he stuck his right leg out, and it touched my leg so it was a clear penalty,” said Sterling of the decisive moment.

Of his goal, Kane added: “As a penalty-taker, sometimes the keeper dives the right way and the penalty wasn’t executed as some I’ve done in the past but I was fortunate it came my way,”

Despite the celebrations at Wembley, Sterling insisted the focus would almost immediately shift to the final against Italy.

“It’s another step in the right direction,” he added. “But once we’re back in the dressing room it’s over and we’ve got to focus on the weekend now. It’s step-by-step and that’s all we can do.”

Manager Gareth Southgate added: “The most pleasing thing is that we’ve given our fans and our nation a fantastic night. The journey continues.”

Sunday will be England’s first European Championship final, having lost in the 1968 and 1996 semi-finals. Their only World Cup final was in 1966. As in 1966, they have the considerable advantage of playing at Wembley, where they were cheered on last night by a crowd of over 60,000, the largesty to attend a sporting event in this country since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year. The tournament has been played across 11 different countries to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the competition.

Last night’s England XI featured Yorkshiremen Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips. Midfielder Phillips plays for his hometown club Leeds United.

All four seem certain to start the final, which England will kick off as favourites, despite the form Italy have shown under the management of Roberto Mancini.

Good times return: Page 22