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 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Those iconic moments are what football fans lives for. The goals. The joy. The togetherness. Sometimes, those iconic moments can live forever in the common photo album of a nation.

In Denmark everyone remembers the 80s when Michael Laudrup, Preben Elkjaer Larsen and Frank Arnesen thrilled the football world with entertaining football. They remember the sensational 1992 European Championship with Peter Schmeichel and Brian Laudrup on the field.

On Monday night, the Danes got some new iconic moments for the photo album, when an astonishing Danish side won 4-1 against Russia, securing a spot in the round of 16 at the Euros. They will play Wales on Saturday after one of the most memorable nights in Danish football.

Nine days after the traumatic opening match, when Christian Eriksen collapsed, leaving the whole country in a state of shock, the Danes can now celebrate in the most electric and joyful atmosphere for decades. It has been some emotional days, and the Danes have gone from collective sorrow and despair to a festival of love. Love for Christian Eriksen. Love for football. Love for the country.

In the eye of the love storm stands the Danish national team. People have been skeptical about the team for years, but the events of this summer have made a special connection between the players and the people. Monday night everything culminated in front of 25.000 ecstatic spectators in the national stadium of Parken, Copenhagen.

“We were hoping for a magical night in Parken,” head coach Kasper Hjulmand after the match.

It was a magical night, indeed.

All day long, the streets of the Danish capitol were coloured red and white by Danish football fans, who were dressed up in the colours of the country. Danish flags were hanging from windows, and several hours before kickoff people were singing in the streets: “We are red, we are white, we are standing, side by side” – the popular tune of the 1986 national team.

Still, the tension was high during the first half of the Russia game. Denmark was forced to win to advance in the tournament, but despite the support from the stands, Denmark struggled against the strong Russian defence. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was forced to make an important save in the beginning of the match, and Denmark could not break through the Russian wall. Until the 38th minute, when Pierre Emile Hojbjerg found youngster Mikkel Damsgaard at the edge of the penalty area, who bend the ball inside the net, scoring one of the best goals of the tournament. Damsgaard, aged 20, only played his fifth Denmark match, but was one of the heroes of the night. Weeks ago, he was unknown to most of the Danish population – for the future, he will be a household name.

In that moment, the stands of Parken exploded. For some odd reason, a lot of Danes celebrated by throwing beers towards the field, making a beer shower for their fellow spectators, but no one cared. It was pure joy, as the crowd applauded the players to the dressing room at half time. Still, everyone’s thoughts were in Sankt Petersburg, where Denmark needed a Belgium win against Finland to secure the second place in the group.

Denmark kept pushing for extra goals, and a Russian mistake in the middle of second half were the key to Yussuf Poulsens second goal of the tournament. But minutes after, time stood still in Copenhagen again. First, the stands were celebrating a goal from Romelu Lukaku in St Petersburg, only to be disappointed as the goal was disallowed. Meanwhile, Russia scored a penalty; suddenly hopes wasn’t that high.

The Danish players, though, didn’t seem to be bother. They kept attacking, playing rock n’ roll football. Midfield hard hitter Thomas Delaney was working like crazy. Left back youngster Joakim Maehle was sprinting up the line, constantly hunting another Danish goal. Captain Simon Kjaer was unbeatable in his duels – making the crowd singing his name and showing him love after those emotional days in the beginning of the tournament. Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen was pure class, covering most of the field with important tackles and genius passes.

And then, suddenly: Spontaneous celebration because of a Belgium goal against Finland. Minutes later; Christensen scoring a screamer, securing a 3-1-lead for Denmark. Danish celebration. A new Belgium goal against Finland. The roof of Parken almost went off. Hours of result speculation was over. Days of emotional rollercoaster trips was culminating. Months of covid-19 frustration was forgotten. Years of expectation was released. Denmark was through.

At the sideline head coach Kasper Hjulmand was screaming at the top of his lunges, showing all those emotions from his heart, while Joakim Maehle scored the final goal and showed a ‘10’ with his fingers – a salute to Christian Eriksen, who likely watched the game from his home in Odense, Denmark – the home city of Hans Christian Andersen. A new Danish fairy tale was written.

After the match, Schmeichel dedicated the win to Eriksen and the Danish fans, who supported the team all the way from the Eriksen crisis and the healing session against Belgium to the redemption against Russia.

After the final whistle, the crowd and players joined in common celebration. At the tv-platform, one could see legends and pundits Peter Schmeichel and Flemming Povlsen, both Euro 1992 winners, applauding the new heroes of the nation: Kasper Schmeichel, Hojbjerg and the rest of the national team.

“The courage of the players. Their companionship. Their fellowship. Their ability to pull themselves together. I am impressed. They deserve it. I can’t understand, how it is possible to pick oneself up after the events of these last weeks. Applause to the boys,” head coach Kasper Hjulmand said, while people were heading home after another emotional night in Copenhagen.

“Thanks to all Danes, who have supported us unconditionally and showed us love all the way. We could not have done it without you. It means everything to us. We appreciate it. It helps the team, and hopefully it creates some amazing moments out there,” Kasper Hjulmand said.

They sure do.

Those moments of Monday night will be remembered for decades, just like the ones from the 80s and 1992.

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