COPENHAGEN – Denmark star Christian Eriksen was awake in hospital and undergoing tests after collapsing and needing to be revived on the pitch against Finland on Saturday in extraordinary scenes at Euro 2020.
The Danish Football Union (DBU) said Eriksen was “awake and undergoing further tests” having received CPR from medical personnel before being taken off on a stretcher at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium.
The Group B game — just the third of the month-long tournament which began a year behind schedule on Friday — was stopped just before half-time with the score goalless and suspended for nearly two hours before restarting.
After the shocked teams joined in a group huddle, the Finns claimed a shock 1-0 win in their first major tournament match, with Joel Pohjanpalo scoring the winner on the hour mark.
UEFA said the decision to restart was made “following the request by players of both teams” and supporters cheered as the game recommenced.
Earlier, Eriksen’s teammates were in tears as they formed a circle of red shirts around the stricken 29-year-old Inter Milan midfielder as the medics worked to save his life.
He was later able to speak to his teammates.
“We’ve been in contact with him, and the players have spoken to Christian. That’s the great news. He’s doing fine, and they are playing the game for him,” DBU director Peter Moeller told Danish television.
Eriksen was voted man of the match in a gesture of support.
“Moments like this put everything in life into perspective,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
“Forza Chris, all of our thoughts are with you,” tweeted Inter, with whom Eriksen won the Serie A title in the season just finished.
Before the drama involving Eriksen, a crowd of 16,000 in the Danish capital — around 45 percent of the capacity — had been celebrating the chance to see their national team again live at the stadium after a year of coronavirus restrictions.
There have been high hopes in Denmark for their team, who were surprise European champions in 1992, but they struggled to create clear chances when the game resumed.
Tottenham midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg saw a 74th-minute penalty comfortably saved by Finland goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky.
Lukaku sends Eriksen message
Saturday’s late match between Russia and much-fancied Belgium in Saint-Petersburg, in the same Group B, went ahead as planned despite the Eriksen drama, with Romelu Lukaku scoring twice in a 3-0 win for the Red Devils.
The Inter striker sent a message of support to his club teammate Eriksen after scoring his opening goal in the 10th minute, shouting “Chris, Chris, stay strong — I love you” into a pitchside camera.
Thomas Meunier, on as an early substitute, doubled the lead in the 34th minute before Lukaku’s late second capped an impressive Belgium display.
Roberto Martinez’s side coped admirably with the absences of injured midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and Axel Witsel, with captain Eden Hazard only fit enough to make an 18-minute cameo off the bench.
Earlier the tournament, which is taking place in 11 venues all across Europe, stopped off in Baku where Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales drew 1-1 with Switzerland.
Kieffer Moore, the giant Cardiff City striker sporting a red bandage around his head, scored the equaliser for Wales in the 74th minute, heading in to cancel out Breel Embolo’s opener early in the second half.
“We showed a lot of character, like we always do, to fight back, be brave, get on the ball and get the equaliser,” Wales captain Gareth Bale said.
That result followed Italy’s 3-0 defeat of Turkey in the same Group A in the tournament’s opening game in Rome on Friday, as Andrea Bocelli performed ‘Nessun Dorma’ in the Stadio Olimpico before Roberto Mancini’s side cruised to victory.
A crowd of 16,000 watched that match, lending a noise and colour to the occasion not seen at football over the last year of games in empty stadiums due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Limited crowds are being allowed to attend matches at the Euro, which was postponed a year ago because of the health crisis.
Covid-19 continues to cause chaos, with several players testing positive for the virus, including Spain captain Sergio Busquets.
Among the leading contenders are England, who begin their campaign against 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia on Sunday.
England are playing all three group games at Wembley. If they top their group they will also play there in the last 16, while London is also the venue for both semi-finals as well as the final on July 11.
Croatia skipper Luka Modric admitted the situation could work in England’s favour.
“Everyone would say teams at home with a crowd, that there is a slight advantage,” Modric told the BBC.
World Cup holders France — with Karim Benzema recalled from a five-and-a-half-year international exile — are the favourites to add the continental crown.
They begin their campaign against Germany in Munich on Tuesday, just after holders Portugal play Hungary in the same Group F.
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