Stat highlights Eriksen's influence

Monday 17 June 2024 09:50

Christian Eriksen started Euro 2024 brilliantly for Denmark, despite the Scandinavians having to settle for a point against Slovenia in Group C.

The midfielder became the first Manchester United man to score in these finals when finishing expertly past Jan Oblak, following a neat flick by Jonas Wind.

It was a second strike in a major tournament for the experienced Dane, after his effort against Australia at the 2018 World Cup.

However, there was much more to Eriksen's performance than the opener alone, as he was a huge influence on proceedings from the no.10 position.

Opta's research shows that he was directly involved in 12 shots from the role, the most by a midfielder in a match at the European Championship since Mesut Ozil posted the same figure in Germany's 4-2 victory against Greece 12 years ago.

Revelling in the creative responsibility, the 32-year-old made a mockery of some pundits in his homeland's suggestions that he should not start, a point not missed by coach Kasper Hjulmand.

"It was a very special goal for me, despite it not taking us to three points," said Hjulmand. "I've never had my doubts with Christian as a football player.

"You cannot hold down that kind of class. He's a natural player who knows the rhythm of the game. He knows how to play.

"For me, he's a great player and showed it today."

Of course, the game came 1,100 days after Eriksen collapsed in the Euro 2020 game against Finland, but he prefers not to dwell on that. "I do think, this time, my story at the Euros is very different from the last one," said the 32-year-old.

"Luckily, it's been a lot of games since the last time and since it happened. I felt confident in playing again, so in that sense, I was just happy to be back playing. But, as a sportsman, you are always disappointed to not cross the finish line with three points."

However, the Euro 2020 semi-finalists had to settle for a draw in the end, following Erik Janza's deflected equaliser for Slovenia.

United striker Rasmus Hojlund admitted afterwards he was disappointed to miss a great chance to double Denmark's lead, although it took a superb stop from Oblak to keep him out from close range.

"I was sorry," he told reporters afterwards. "It was a good save but it was clear that I should have scored."

Denmark's next outing is a key fixture against England in Frankfurt, kicking off at 17:00 BST on Thursday.

The Three Lions' 1-0 win over Serbia, with Kobbie Mainoo coming on as a late substitute, has installed Gareth Southgate's side as early group leaders, and Eriksen appreciates the Danes, out to avenge their last-four loss at Wembley three years ago, need to improve.

"It's a wake-up call for us," he said, when picking up his UEFA Player of the Match award.