England’s Euro 2020 hopes have been given renewed hope after equalising against Denmark at Wembley.
Forward Raheem Sterling pressured Danish defender Simon Kjaer to put the ball into his own net after Mikkel Damsgaard notched the opening goal inside half an hour with a long-distance free-kick in front of a stunned Wembley crowd.
The majority of the 60,000 fans inside the stadium – who include the Duke of Cambridge, the Football Association’s president, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson – erupted as Sterling helped bundle the ball home from close range on 39 minutes.
Fans in London’s Trafalgar Square were sent into raptures as England equalised, with those in the fan zone roaring loudly, jumping on to the tables and throwing their beers in the air.
They began chanting “Come on England” and “It’s coming home”.
One fan, Carl Afinwayo, 23, from Croydon, south London, told the PA news agency: “Oh my word, it’s insane, we needed that- we needed to equalise.
“Sterling has had a great tournament as well, he should be knighted.”
Ryan Demeza, 22, a retail manager from Hastings – watching in Croydon, said: “I’m absolutely buzzing,” as England drew level.
“The whole place erupted. We’d been feeling quite rubbish but we’re going to win it now for sure.”
Emily Chetty, 30, a social worker from Lewisham, said: “We were a bit nervous when it happened but we got it back and we’re really happy now.”
Less than 10 minutes earlier, the 8,000 UK-based Danes inside the stadium erupted as their side took an unlikely lead in the 30th minute, with an estimated 20 million people watching the match from home across England.
Sam Yevko, 23, from Salisbury, watching the game at Waxy’s Little Sister in Leicester Square, said: “We never lost faith, we feel absolutely ecstatic after that goal.
“An own goal from the captain (Kjaer) is all we needed just to turn it around, bring on the second half.”
Fans in Trafalgar Square were left silent by the Danish opener – the first that England conceded in the tournament, and home supporters could be heard swearing and booing after the ball hit the net.
James Little, 19, a student from Sutton, south London, said: “I’m gobsmacked to be honest, we haven’t conceded in this tournament and I feel like the way we play means we need to score first.
“It’s a long way back from here, I hope the semi-final curse doesn’t strike again – this is the best chance we have to win.
“It’s a wonder goal though isn’t it? How could (goalkeeper Jordan) Pickford save that?”
Ricky Thompson, 29, a window fitter from Milton Keynes – watching the game at Boxpark in Croydon, said he was “gutted” after Demark pulled ahead.
“Pickford should have saved that, no way,” he said.
“And the referee shouldn’t have given a free kick in the first place.
“I’m gutted, really gutted but still confident. Come on England.”
England were installed as clear favourites among bookmakers to beat Denmark, having progressed through the tournament without conceding a goal.
Supporters also arrived at Wembley – several hours before kick-off – in buoyant mood.
Ian Turnbull, 34, a cable joiner from near Hartlepool, said: “We are going through to the final and we are going to win because it’s coming home.”
But the Danes emerged from heartbreak in their opening match defeat to Finland – when talisman Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch – to make it into the last four.
Should England win, it will be the first time the men’s team has made it to a major final since the 1966 World Cup, which they won.
Italy await the winners in the final at Wembley.