England progressed into the final of Euro 2020 after beating Denmark 2-1 after extra-time. A 34th minute own-goal from Simon Kjær levelled things up for England after a stunning free-kick from Mikkel Damsgaard opened the scoring nine minutes earlier. Then Harry Kane won the match for his side in the 104th minute, sending his country into their first final since 1966.
While it was the England skipper who picked up the Star of the Match award for the semi-final fixture, the Manchester United defensive duo were both pivotal in yet another victory for The Three Lions.
Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw have been crucial in the tournament so far for Gareth Southgate’s side. While the Manchester United captain missed the first two group stage fixtures through injury, he made up for the most time straight away and has been colossal in the defence for England, picking up the Star of the Match against Germany in the round-of-16 and then scoring a bullet header as England saw off Ukraine 4-0 in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, Shaw has brought his incredible club form across to the national stage, being a strong offensive threat on the left-hand side. While Kyle Walker often looks to be the more defensive full-back, the United left-back gives his country a great attacking dynamic on the left-wing, where he’s began to link-up with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane very well. Shaw has three assists so far in the tournament, the most of any player in the squad.
As they entered the semi-final against Denmark, England were confident but had to dig deep after conceding the first goal of the game and the first goal against them in the tournament. An extremely solid defensive display saw Maguire win 13 duels and make five interceptions, he also came extremely close to scoring a winner in the second half, but his header was expertly saved by Kasper Schmeichel, who was superb on the night.
Maguire’s ability to step out of the defence was critical for England in this match, as it has been in all of their other fixtures too. While Tyrone Mings had an impressive stint in the side at the beginning of the tournament, it is completely clear to see why the Manchester United skipper was brought back in when he was cleared fit.Embed from Getty Images
Jamie Carragher has praised the centre-back in the past and continued to do so after his performance in the semi-final. Speaking on England player’s up for contention for Player of the Tournament, the former Liverpool defender told Sky Sports: “Not just Raheem Sterling, but there’s a few players in the England team [who are in contention], I think Harry Maguire has made a huge influence since he came back in as well.”
Although Shaw was the man who gave away the foul for Denmark’s only goal of the game, he continued to play as he had done in the previous fixtures and completely ran the left hand side of the pitch going forward. He was both solid defensively – winning 10 duels and making seven recoveries.
Gareth Southgate was overawed with pride as he led the side into only their second international final of all time. He told ITV Sport: “I’m so proud of the players, it was an incredible occasion to be a part of. The fans were incredible all night.
“We knew it wouldn’t be straight forward, the game the other night in Rome was so straight forward, we said to the players that we’re going to have to, at some point, show resilience and come back from some set backs and we did that tonight.”Embed from Getty Images
With the final ahead of them on Sunday against Italy, Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire are must-starts as England are looking to win their second international trophy ever. It is also possible that Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have a part to play in the game.
Italy have been a strong outfit throughout the tournament and will be the toughest test for The Three Lions, but with the game being played at Wembley Stadium and the way they’ve played this tournament, England will feel confident that they can bring it home.