Football Features

“He felt very much at home today” – Dolberg downs Wales as Denmark dominate 0-4 to reach Euro 2020 quarter-finals

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 19:27, 26 June 2021

In an incredible evening of football, Denmark destroyed 10-man Wales 0-4 to make the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.

After 30 minutes off the bench in the win over Russia, Kasper Dolberg got 69 nice minutes against Wales. Well, they were more than nice in truth. They were 69 devastating minutes that wrecked the Welsh dreams of progress in Euro 2020.

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Yussuf Poulsen was the starting striker for his nation and scored twice in his first two and a half games, and while others rallied to score in his absence the nature of the win against Russia was so miraculous it looked like injury to the striker could well cost Denmark a shot at the quarter-finals.

Until Kasper Dolberg stepped up and delivered a magnificent display of striking. Of centre-forwarding. Of no. 9’ing. Whatever you want to call it, Dolberg delivered it in a way that made it feel like 2017 all over again.

Back then Dolberg was a 19-year-old striker playing for Ajax, reaching the Europa League final. He bagged 23 goals in 47 games and looked like the next big thing, but injuries and bad luck derailed his journey to superstardom.

However tonight we got a glimpse of his class, his individual ability.

It wasn’t a big glimpse, for sure, but then that’s the point of a goalscoring striker, isn’t it? They don’t have to be involved in the game a whole amount, they don’t need loads of touches, they just show up in the right place at the right time to score goals.

Dolberg’s first goal came out of nowhere, really. Mikkel Damsgard found him near the edge of the box and with no Welsh defender stepping up to confront him, he had a half-chance at best. Still, great strikers turn half-chances into goals and Dolberg took a couple touches to steady himself and then clipped a gorgeous finish through the Welsh defence and around Danny Ward. 1-0.

Six minutes later Damsgard again was making headway into the Welsh defence and slipped the ball across to Dolberg just a couple yards out, the striker had his back to goal and flicked it with his heel to try and get it in but Danny Ward made the save.

Two minutes into the second-half, Denmark broke on Wales through Martin Braithwaite. The Barcelona man tore by Joe Rodon and fired a superb low ball across the face of goal – Neco Williams cleared but it was a hurried, scuffed clearance and it fell straight to Dolberg. The striker took one touch to shift and then in his second he absolutely leathered it into the back of the net.

2-0 and the game was basically done. Any hope for a Welsh riposte in the second-half was all but dashed as Dolberg, with just three shots on target, his only real actions of the contest to that point, had all-but decided the game.

This is the power of goalscoring strikers that we have seen illustrated time and time again at Euro 2020 through the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ciro Immobile. Now Kasper Dolberg can add his name to that list in this tournament of strikers, and don’t rule him out in the quarter-finals against either the Netherlands or the Czech Republic.

Speaking about Dolberg post-match, Gabby Logan pointed out how many goals Dolberg had scored in the Johann Cruijff Arena, saying: “he felt very much at home today.” With Mark Hughes adding of Denmark as a whole: “Individually, collectively, they’re a very good outfit.”

And while that is very true, the only real value of being a good, collective outfit is if you can use that collectivity to win games. And that’s where the individual brilliance of goalscorers like Kasper Dolberg comes in.

Simon Kjaer, Andreas Christensen and Jannik Vestergaard were dominant at the back (with Christensen excelling in midfield as well), Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and Thomas Delaney were constantly on the ball passing it around. Damsgaard was obviously amazing, as was Andreas Cornelius’ cameo, and of course Joakim Maehle continues the pattern of Atalanta wing-backs dominating at the Euros and of course scored the third goal before the hard-working Braithwaite bagged a fourth… but none of it would have been worth a damn without Kasper Dolberg and his crucial touches, appearing in the right place at the right time to harpoon Wales.