England v Denmark
2002 FIFA World Cup Round of 16
Saturday 15th June 2002
Denka Big Swan Stadium, Niigata
Set the Scene
The draw pitched England in Group F with Sweden, Nigeria and Argentina. In truth it was a pretty dour group with none of the 6 Group Fixtures producing much entertainment but England finished the Group as Runners-Up after a 1-1 draw with Sweden followed by a 1-0 win over Argentina and a 0-0 draw with Nigeria. Group Winners Sweden would face Senagal in the Last 16 whilst England were handed a tricky looking tie with Denmark.
The Danes were drawn in Group A which on Paper looked one of the tougher Groups which included France, Senegal and Uruguay. Defending World Champions France were stunned 1-0 in the opening game of the Tournament by Senegal and the Group was wide open. The Danes went on to win the Group with 7 point following a 2-1 win over Uruguay a 1-1 draw with Senagal and a 2-0 win over a star studded but contrversial French team.
The Danes were slight Favourites with the Bookmakers heading into the last 16 tie in Niigata. The Danes were a very workmanlike side and had the advantage of many of their players having experience of playing in the English Premier League.
England started the match well with Emile Heskey getting into a good position out wide but the much maligned striker failed to control the ball and fell flat on his face and the ball trickled out of play for a goal kick. 5 Minutes into the game England forced an early corner and a pin point delivery from David Beckham was met by Rio Ferdinand whose header went back across goal and Inadvertantly bundled into his own goal by Sunderland’s Danish keeper Thomas Sorensen and England had the advantage. England began to sit back having got the early breakthrough and both Jon Dahl Tomasson and Ebbe Sand had half chances for The Danes to Equalise.
After 20 Minutes Denmark were forced into a change when Veteren Thomas Helveg was replaced by Kasper Bogelund. Helveg’s experience was to be missed. 2 Minutes later Trevor Sinclair broke away from the recently arrived Bogelund and crossed into the middle and as Nicky Butt tried and failed to flick on to Michael Owen the ball hit Martin Laursen and straight to Owen who spun and shot on the edge of the 6 yard box to give England a 2-0 lead. Once again England sat back and Ebbe Sand missed a glorious chance to make it 2-1 when it looked easier to score. England made it 3-0 just before half time and it was Emile Heskey who had endured a comical first 45 Minutes who netted when he slid home a Beckham Cross and at half time England were pretty much in the Quarter Finals.
5 mInutes into the second half and there is a moment of real controversy when Danny Mills is shown a Yellow Card for a forearm to the face of Henriksen, the Leeds man was very lucky to stay on the field. This seem it rile the Danes into action and Dennis Rommedahl created yet another chance for Sand to get his side on the board but again he lacked composure at the vital moment. The same could be said for Tomasson after 68 Minutes when he only had to get out of the way of a goal bound shot instead he tried to head the ball home and it flew over the bar, the replay showed the ball was on its way in with Seaman nowhere near. The Danes never gave up but England should have increased there lead late on with both Sinclair and Fowler missing good chances. The game ended 3-0 an still to this day remains Englands best ever Knock at Victory at a major Tournament.
David Seaman, Danny Mills, Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Trevor Sinclair, Emile Heskey, Michael Owen
Subs Used : Teddy Sheringham, Robbie Fowler, Kieron Dyer
Thomas Sorensen, Thomas Helveg, Niclas Jensen, Rene Henriksen, Martin Laursen, Dennis Rommedahl, Thomas Gravesen, Stig Tofting, Jesper Gronkjaer, Ebbe Sand, John Dahl Tomasson
Subs Used : Kasper Bogelund, Claus Jensen