Denmark faced Belgium in Copenhagen on Thursday in their first match at Euro 2020 since midfielder Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on the field in Saturday’s game against Finland in the same stadium.
Eriksen is recovering in a hospital in the Danish capital just a few hundred yards away from the Parken stadium, where a unique tribute was paid to him during the match.
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The afternoon began with an emotional serenade for Eriksen as both sets of fans joined in harmony for a rendition of terrace anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
And while Yussuf Poulsen gave the Danes a dream start with an early goal, it was second-half strikes by Thorgan Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne that gave Belgium the 2-1 win on an emotional night.
And there was a prematch message of support for Eriksen in the form of a giant version of his No. 10 jersey being paraded on the field.
Belgium also presented Denmark captain Simon Kjaer with a signed shirt which had Eriksen’s name, number and “Good Recovery” on the back as the atmosphere built toward the kick-off.
Denmark then got off to the perfect start when Poulsen opened the scoring with two minutes on the clock, sparking joyous celebrations.
With only 99 seconds played beforehand, Poulsen’s goal was not only a gloriously emotional one for his country but it also entered the annals of European Championship history.
With the home crowd still celebrating that goal, the planned tribute for Eriksen took place. With the match clock showing 10 minutes, the same number as Eriksen wears on the back of his jersey for his national team, the ball was kicked out of play and the Denmark and Belgium players led the fans inside the stadium in an emotional minute’s applause.
A variety of banners and flags were also unfurled in the Parken stands, including one reading “The whole of Denmark is with you, Christian.”
One of the players involved was Romelu Lukaku, who plays alongside Eriksen at Inter Milan. The Belgium striker had dedicated his opening goal against Russia on Saturday to his teammate, shouting “Chris, I love you” down the camera lens.
Danish professional golfer Thomas Bjorn couldn’t find the words to articulate his feelings, as all across social media people were reacting to such an unprecedented moment.
Belgium would equalise in the 54th minute when second-half substitute De Bruyne found an unmarked Hazard who thumped home into an empty net. De Bruyne would give his side the lead with his goal in the 70th minute, celebrating in a respectful manner.
As full-time approached, Denmark tried to find their second on the night as Martin Braithwaite even rattled the woodwork late.
Unfortunately, the Danes were ultimately beaten in a game they so dearly wanted to win, but their fans applauded their players’ effort as they now turn to their attention to their final group stage game against Russia.
Chris Wright contributed to this report
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