Football ANALYSIS Soccer Denmarks Eriksen makes memorable Euro return to silence critics
Football ANALYSIS Soccer Denmarks Eriksen makes memorable Euro return to silence critics

Football: ANALYSIS-Soccer-Denmark’s Eriksen makes memorable Euro return to silence critics

STUTTGART, Germany (Reuters) – Denmark captain Christian Eriksen marked a memorable return to the European Championship three years after suffering a cardiac arrest at the previous edition of the tournament, scoring the goal that secured a 1-1 draw with Slovenia in their Group C opener on Sunday.

The 32-year-old missed his team’s run to the semi-final in 2021 after his shock on-pitch collapse in the opening match against Finland.

On Sunday he did not waste any time to put the trauma of that game behind him as he played his first Euro game since then.

In a textbook playmaking performance, especially in a strong Danish first half, Eriksen orchestrated their game and set a quick early pace as per the orders of coach Kasper Hjulmand who fielded two strikers.

He delivered almost all of their set pieces while also scoring a 17th minute goal that handed the Danes the lead in a performance that will go a long way in silencing the critics.

Were it not for his team mates’ sloppy finish, he could have added an assist or two to his match stats.

Only a few months ago this seemed a very unlikely scenario.

“The Christian Eriksen we all know, he is no longer there. Christian Eriksen doesn’t play football anymore,” former Denmark and Real Madrid player Thomas Gravesen said in his scathing criticism of the international.

“Christian Eriksen sits on the bench and watches football. Christian Eriksen as we know him, he is no more.”

Eriksen was coming off a disappointing season with Manchester United that saw him earn little playing time under coach Eric ten Haag. That was hardly the run-up he needed for a major tournament.

Many fans back home were surprised that Hjulmand had kept faith with him, while others were certain the midfielder was well past his best.

Hjulmand, however, was certain Eriksen was still a precious asset for his team.

“He can do things that no one else can or see,” he had said a few months ago.

On Sunday he was proven right with Eriksen the only player to maintain his level throughout and even though the Danish defence gradually caved in under Slovenian pressure and conceded an equaliser, he deservedly picked up the man-of-the-match award on his memorable Euro return.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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