Christian Eriksen celebrates after scoring the game's opening goal. Alamy Stock Photo
euro 2024

Eriksen scores on emotional Euro return as Denmark held by Slovenia

Wout Weghorst grabbed late winner as Netherlands beat Poland earlier.


RTÉ Sport / YouTube

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN SCORED for Denmark in a 1-1 draw with Slovenia, almost three years to the day since he nearly died in his team’s opening game at the last tournament.

The Manchester United midfielder fired his team ahead on 17 minutes in front of a Stuttgart stadium filled overwhelmingly by Denmark supporters, but Erik Janza’s late deflected effort earned Slovenia a point in their first match at the Euros since 2000.

Denmark go on to play England in their second Group C game in Frankfurt on Thursday, while Slovenia continue their campaign against Serbia in Munich.

Slovenia midfielder Timi Max Elsnik admitted there would be few surprises for either side after they finished just behind Denmark on head-to-head record in their qualifying group.

Highly-rated Slovenia striker Benjamin Sesko nearly caught Kasper Schmeichel out with a powerful long-range drive, but moments later it was Denmark who struck.

A quick throw-in was flicked on by Jonas Wind into the stride of Eriksen, who crashed a low shot into the far corner to give the Danes the lead.

Eriksen blazed over just before half-time after more excellent work from the lively Wind, with Slovenia defender Jaka Bijol close to heading into his own net after a Denmark set-piece early in the second half.

Oblak produced a brave stop to prevent Rasmus Hojlund doubling the advantage, blocking the United forward’s effort from point-blank range to keep his team in it.

Adam Gnezda Cerin glanced a cross wide as Slovenia pressed for an equaliser and Sporar stabbed wide as he lunged to meet a free-kick.

Sesko was desperately unlucky to see his rasping drive cannon back off the post, but Slovenia were soon level.

Denmark could not properly clear a corner and Janza’s thumping half-volley from just outside the penalty box brushed off Morten Hjulmand to leave Schmeichel stranded.

Sporar had the chance to snatch victory for Slovenia after bursting past Jannik Vestergaard, but he powered into the side-netting as Schmeichel appeared to get the faintest of touches.

RTÉ Sport / YouTube

Earlier, substitute Wout Weghorst struck late on to earn the Netherlands a 2-1 win over Poland in their Group D opener at Euro 2024.

Adam Buksa headed Poland into an early lead at Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion, but Cody Gakpo ensured it was level at half-time.

The Netherlands pushed for a late winner and it arrived when Burnley forward Weghorst fired home in the 83rd minute.

Poland were without captain and talisman Robert Lewandowski due to a thigh injury but still took the lead in the 16th minute.

Piotr Zielinski, who took the armband in Lewandowski’s absence, produced a fine corner which Buksa headed into the far corner.

It sparked jubilant scenes from substitute Lewandowski in the Poland dugout and delivered a shock to the Netherlands, who had entered the tournament with six wins in seven matches and 21 goals scored during that period.

There was a quick response from Ronald Koeman’s men, though, with Liverpool forward Gakpo able to level after 29 minutes.

Nathan Ake burst forward to win a loose ball and tee up Gakpo, who found the net from 22 yards with the help of a deflection for his 10th international goal.

It remained level at the break, but the Netherlands started strongly after half-time and Xavi Simons sliced wide when well placed after good work by Gakpo.

Koeman’s men continued to dictate possession, only for Poland to go close when Nicola Zalewski had a header saved by Brighton’s Bart Verbruggen.

As the seconds ticked away, Koeman turned to his bench and Weghorst provided the answer when he rifled home Ake’s low ball into the area just two minutes after coming on.

– © AFP 2024

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