Devastating Dolberg dashes Welsh hopes as he strikes twice to send fan favorites Denmark into Euro 2020 quarter-finals
Youngster Kasper Dolberg produced an inspired performance as he struck twice while Joakim Maehle and Martin Braithwaite scored late on to send Denmark into the Euro 2020 quarter-finals at the expense of a crestfallen Wales.
Driven on by fervent support in Amsterdam, Denmark struck first through a superb Dolberg effort in the 27th minute when the Nice forward whipped the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Dolberg then capitalized on some wayward Welsh defending three minutes into the second half as he drove the ball home from close range after a botched clearance from Neco Williams had been sent straight into his path.
The rout was complete when Maehle ghosted into space at the back post with two minutes of normal time to play, cutting inside and then sweeping the ball high into the net.
Braithwaite then escaped a VAR offside review to see his finish count deep into injury time.
After defeat in their first two games of the tournament and the harrowing loss of playmaker Christian Eriksen, Kasper Hjulmand’s Denmark team are now riding a wave of momentum.
Having swept aside Russia 4-1 in their final group game and now brushing past Wales with similar ease, Denmark next face a quarter-final meeting with either the Netherlands or Czech Republic in Baku on July 3.
In contrast, Wales failed to repeat their surprise heroics from five years ago when they went all the way to the semi-finals in France, exiting to a superior team on the day in Amsterdam as the likes of star men Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey were unable to impose themselves.
While the final score suggests otherwise, Wales had actually started the brighter of the two teams in Amsterdam, firing a warning shot when Bale flashed an effort just wide of Kasper Schmeichel’s upright when he cut inside from the right.
Bale looked in the mood early on, as did partner in crime Ramsey, who bristled with attacking intent every time his team pressed forward.
But midway through the first half the momentum began to shift as Denmark penned Wales back with a series of corners as they grew into the game.
When the breakthrough did come in the 27th minute, it was through an exquisite finish from 23-year-old Nice star Dolberg, who only came into the starting line-up after an injury to regular starter Yussuf Poulsen.
Dolberg seized his chance with relish, drifting into the center to collect the ball before curling a right-footed effort from the edge of the box into the far bottom corner of Danny Ward’s goal.
3 - Denmark have scored more goals from outside the box than any other side at #EURO2020 (3), while since 1980 only France (5 in 1984) and Belgium (4 in 2016) have scored more from distance in a single edition of the competition. Range. #WALDEN— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 26, 2021
Watching on amid the raucous following in the stands in Amsterdam, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was seen celebrating while the Welsh faithful – significantly fewer in number due to Covid travel restrictions – were cowed by Dolberg’s dash of brilliance.
Wales were lucky not to find themselves further behind just before the break, but stopper Ward pushed Maehle’s effort into the side-netting at the back post.
Denmark picked up where they left off after the restart though, and Dolberg was the man to do the damage again as the former Ajax youngster enjoyed a dream return to his old stomping ground.
Braithwaite burst down the right and produced a seemingly harmless cut-back, but Wales defender Williams sent his clearance straight at Dolberg, who collected the ball before gratefully drilling past Ward.
It was a moment to forget for young Liverpool star Williams, who had only come on for the injured Connor Roberts towards the end of the first half.
Wales appealed for a foul in the build-up as Simon Kjaer had hauled down Kieffer Moore at the other end of the pitch at the start of the move, but VAR cleared the goal and Wales were on the ropes.
Still Denmark pressed the initiative, leaving them open to raids from the likes of Bale, but substitute Mathias Jensen almost curled in a cross-turned-shot to put the Danes out of sight with around 25 minutes to play.
Demark struck the post inside the last five minutes through Braithwaite while Wales saw Harry Wilson receive a straight red card for a late challenge.
The rout was completed when Maehle struck with two minutes to play and Barcelona forward Braithwaite sent the ball into the bottom corner from 10 yards out in an effort which was sent to a VAR review for offside but saw the goal given.
Denmark will meet either the Netherlands or Czech Republic, with their nation’s unlikely Euro triumph back in 1992 serving as inspiration alongside the far more immediate passion driven by the desire to do the stricken Eriksen proud.