Christian Eriksen scores goal for Denmark at Euro 2024, three years after suffering cardiac arrest at previous tournament

Christian Eriksen scored Denmark’s opening goal at Euro 2024 against Slovenia - and it’s one that will likely feel extra special.

Just three years ago, Eriksen collapsed on the pitch after suffering cardiac arrest during Denmark’s group match against Finland at Euro 2020, which was delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Danish captain received life-saving treatment on the pitch, eventually being resuscitated and taken to hospital.

Exactly 1,100 days after the incident, Eriksen produced a brilliant finish to give Denmark the lead against Slovenia, taking Jonas Wind’s clever back-heel on his chest before volleying into the bottom corner.

The image of Eriksen celebrating his goal – a huge grin plastered across his face – was in stark contrast to the distressing scenes at Euro 2020.

That day, his Denmark teammates stood around Eriksen arm-in-arm as he received treatment, trying to shield him from the cameras and supporters in the stands.

There was relief around the stadium - and around the world - when a conscious Eriksen waved to the crowd as he was being stretchered off the pitch.

“Well, what should I say? He was gone,” Morten Boesen, Denmark’s team doctor, said the following day. “We did cardiac resuscitation and it was cardiac arrest. How close were we? I don’t know.”

After receiving life-saving treatment on the pitch, Eriksen was subsequently fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) device – a type of pacemaker intended to prevent fatal cardiac arrests by discharging a jolt to restore regular heart rhythm.

Serie A club Inter Milan, whom Eriksen had been contracted to at the time of the incident, told him that he would be allowed to move abroad in order to continue his football career, with the midfielder unable to play in Italy unless the ICD device was removed.

Eriksen started training with former club Odense Boldklub in Denmark, before moving to Brentford on a free transfer in January 2022 and then Manchester United, where he currently plays.

Eriksen’s brush with death has made the midfielder remarkably philosophical and reflective about life and living.

“I’ve learned that even after a bad time, there’s always a time after where everything will be different,” Eriksen told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies after receiving the Comeback of the Year award at the Laureus Sports Awards in Paris last yaer.

“One of the first quotes I heard was that even if you feel good, you’re going to feel bad, you’re going to feel good again. It’s just going to go up and down – time is your best friend.”

Denmark was unable to build on Eriksen’s goal and thanks to Slovenia defender Erik Janža’s deflected shot in the 77th minute, the Group C game ended in a 1-1 draw.

Serbia vs. England

Jude Bellingham scored the winning goal for England. - Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images
Jude Bellingham scored the winning goal for England. - Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

In Group C’s second game on Sunday, England earned an unconvincing 1-0 win over Serbia thanks to Jude Bellingham’s first-half header.

Serbia barely had a touch of the ball inside the opening 10 minutes, struggling to get into the game as England passed the ball between themselves with ease.

England was similarly dominant in possession against Iceland in the final friendly before the start of Euro 2024, but an insipid performance ended with the visitor earning a famous victory at Wembley.

But Gareth Southgate’s side was playing with an obvious vigor in the early stages against Serbia, snapping into challenges and passing the ball around with purpose.

It wasn’t long before England took a deserved lead, as Bellingham timed his late run to perfection to get in front of his defender and head Bukayo Saka’s deflected cross past Predrag Rajković in the Serbia goal.

Bellingham was evidently fired up by his goal. Soon after, the Real Madrid midfielder waved his arms towards the crowd to gee up the England fans after putting the ball out for a throw-in, before barging Filip Kostić in the chest as he walked away – much to the Serbian winger’s annoyance.

England was given a warning – if it needed one – of just how quickly the game can change when an error from Trent Alexander-Arnold gifted Aleksandar Mitrović possession, but the Al Hilal striker flashed his effort a fraction wide of the post.

That hairy moment aside, it was an extremely assured first half from England. Kyle Walker should have made it 2-0 when he was through on goal, but decided to cross the ball when perhaps shooting was the better option.

The second half, however, was decidedly less comfortable for England. Serbia began to grow into the game and had England pinned back into its own penalty box for long periods, but a lack of any quality in attack meant clear cut chances were few and far between.

Harry Kane had the best chance of the second half but his header was brilliantly tipped onto the crossbar by Rajković, who celebrated his save as though he had won Euro 2024

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had to be alert in the closing stages to turn Dušan Vlahović vicious long-range strike over the bar, but that was the closest Serbia got to an equalizer.

Bellingham timed his run to perfection. - Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
Bellingham timed his run to perfection. - Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

The Three Lions are rarely swashbuckling in tournament football but Southgate will have plenty to think about after that second-half performance before his team faces Denmark on Thursday.

There had been security concerns ahead of the game. On Saturday, there were chants of ’10 German bombers’ – a reference to World War II – from some England supporters in Düsseldorf on Saturday, with journalist Matt Lawton posting a video that showed one fan holding an inflatable plane outside of a pub.

There were also clashes between Serbia and England fans as they made their way to the stadium on Sunday.

Gelsenkirchen police said in a statement that around 4,000 Serbian fans marched towards the Veltins-Arena in a “largely peaceful” manner, but had to be stopped “several times along the way because pyrotechnics were set off.”

“At around 3:45 p.m., the police were informed of a confrontation between Serbian and English football fans in the area of Arminstrasse,” the statement continued.

“Riot police officers separated the two fan camps. They took seven Serbian supporters into custody and filed a criminal complaint for grievous bodily harm.

“There were no further incidents on the way to the arena. There is a lively atmosphere around the stadium. The police are on site and are keeping an eye on the situation.”

There were more positive chants from England fans in the Arena AufSchalke during Sunday’s game, notably when they erupted into a rendition of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” celebrating the 20-year-old’s goal, while after the final whistle was blown “Sweet Caroline” – another fan anthem – echoed around the stadium.

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