England dismal in Denmark draw, even as Spain sparkle in win over Italy

England vs Denmark, Euro 2024
England vs Denmark, Euro 2024 (PC: X)

RevSportz Comment

“We’re in the environment of winning on the biggest possible stage and if I don’t hit the level that’s needed, then we have to accept what comes our way,” said Gareth Southgate after England’s 1-1 draw with Denmark in Frankfurt. “We have to find the best way to solve that. Of course we need the fans. But I have to say they’ve been brilliant. What I would say is these boys are not lacking effort at the moment. It’s not a case that they’re not trying. If anything, at the moment, we care too much.”

He was referring to his players’ anxious and insipid performance, and the boos that greeted the final whistle. In truth, though Phil Foden did thump the base of the post in the second half, England were lucky to escape with a point. Their vaunted midfield, with two players – Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice – having fetched more than 100m Euros in transfer fees, and a third, Trent Alexander-Arnold, surely worth as much, was pitiful, with Denmark playing the more cohesive and stylish football.

A Kyle Walker steal on the right had helped set up an 18th minute goal for Harry Kane, but Morton Hjulmand’s 30-year piledrive a quarter hour later was nothing if not merited. But for their lack of cutting edge up front, Denmark might have stolen the points. England and Southgate made a raft of changes in the second half, with Alexander-Arnold, Kane, Bukayo Saka and Foden all going off, but to little avail. Ollie Watkins might have won it in the end, but England know they will need to be much better against Slovenia next Tuesday to guarantee progress.

Wingers star as Spain slice Italy up

The only mystery in Gelsenkirchen was that Spain won by only one goal. Gianluigi Donnarumma made eight saves, some of them outstanding, to keep Italy in the game, and it was finally an own goal from Riccardo Calafiori in the 55th minute that gave Spain all three points. But don’t let that fool you. This was as one-sided a contest as you could hope to see between two storied teams. Had they lost 4-0, Italy could have had few complaints.

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Spain vs Italy, Euro 2024
Spain vs Italy, Euro 2024 (PC: X)

Nico Williams on the left and Lamine Yamal on the right flank were irresistible all night. Whether it was beating the full-back on the outside as Williams did for the only goal, or cutting in as Yamal often did, Italy’s rearguard was given twisted blood by Spain’s young talents. Italy created next to nothing of note – one shot on target – and were relieved that there was no David Villa, Fernando Torres or Raul to stick away the multitude of chances created.

Italy, the defending champions, may live to fight again, but it was definitely Spain that looked far more like possible winners.

Luka Jovic has the last word

Back in the country where he made his name as a striker with Eintracht Frankfurt, Luka Jovic scored the latest of late goals to give Serbia a share of the points against Slovenia. A generation ago, at Euro 2000, the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – with Dragan Stojkovic, present-day Serbia coach, in the ranks – scored thrice in six minutes to turn a 0-3 deficit into a 3-3 draw against a Zlatko Zahovic-inspired Slovenia. This wasn’t as dramatic, but Slovenia could regret not taking all three points from a match they controlled for the most part.

Zan Karnicnik’s 69th-minute goal was worthy of winning any game – a surge out of defence after winning possession, running half the length of the field, exchanging passes and then tucking away the chance. But as well as Slovenia then defended, they had no answer to an inswinging corner that Ivan Ilie swung in with the five minutes of added-on time almost up. Jovic’s glancing header earned a precious point, and he went to celebrate amid the debris that Serb hooligans had flung onto the pitch in anticipation of a second straight defeat. 

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