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Eriksen’s fairytale Euro comeback spoilt by Slovenia in Euro draw

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Christian Eriksen scored for Denmark in a 1-1 draw with Slovenia at Euro 2024 on Sunday, almost three years to the day since he nearly died in his team’s opening game at the last tournament.

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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.

Denmark reached the semi-finals of the pandemic-delayed Euro 2020 tournament before losing to England, riding a wave of emotion triggered by Eriksen’s collapse in Copenhagen, which left him needing to be resuscitated on the pitch after he suffered a cardiac arrest.

He eventually resumed his career after being fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, making his return to international duty nine months later and appearing at the 2022 World Cup.

On the eve of Denmark’s Euro 2024 opener, Eriksen said the harrowing incident is no longer something he routinely thinks about, intent instead on focusing helping his country make another deep run in Germany.

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.

Wind supplies Eriksen

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.

With Sesko being closely monitored by the Danish defence, Andraz Sporar failed to take advantage of a hole in the backline as he miscontrolled a bouncing ball forward when he looked through on goal.

Sesko almost handed Denmark a second as he hacked a clearance in his own area against his team-mate, Jan Oblak watching on in hope as the ball skipped just wide of his goal.

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.

(AFP)

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