Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said the incredible progress of the team to the last 16 of the Euro 2020 series was just a reward for his players, who continued their task after the cardiac arrest of teammate Christian Eriksen against Finland .
Denmark knocked out Russia 4-1 in Copenhagen in the last Group B match on Monday and took advantage of a 2-0 victory by Belgium over the Finns to finish second and a final 16 match against Wales in Amsterdam on Saturday to set up.
Most important midfielder Eriksen collapsed at the scene in the first 1-0 defeat for Finland before recovering in hospital, but Hjulmand said the incident did not bring them closer together and that it provided motivation.
“What a night. We were hoping it would be a magic night,” he told reporters. ‘I can not imagine how they could manage to come back from what they went through, such a great honor for the boys.
‘It’s hard to describe what this team has been through over the last few weeks, but we think of Christian all the way. The team spirit and how everyone contributed is incredible.
“We played three games at a very high level and our players deserve it.”
Hjulmand said he had to stop his players from celebrating prematurely at the final whistle, until they knew for sure that Belgium had won, and so they formed a circle to check the score on a phone in the middle of the field.
“The circle was because I thought it would be crazy to run around and celebrate. What if Finland scored two quick goals? So we needed the result to be confirmed, and once it was, we could let go, “he said.
He believed it would be a draw with Wales at the weekend and added that Denmark would not underestimate opponents who reached the Euro semi-finals five years ago.
“Wales are a very difficult opponent. They have come a long way lately and have excellent players. It will be a level playing field, they are flexible and can change their positions and strategies, so it is difficult to know what to do. “It’s going to be a very interesting game.”