Five things we learned from England's epic Euro 2020 semi-final win over Denmark

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a drill: England are through to the Final of Euro 2020! Crank 'Vindaloo' up to eleven, and let's get stuck into it, shall we?
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Last night, England fought back from a goal down to defeat Denmark 2-1 in the Euro 2020 semi-final at Wembley Stadium, with Simon Kjær's own-goal and Harry Kane's extra-time penalty rebound enough to see the Three Lions book their place in Sunday's showdown.

A far cry from the 4-0 romp against Ukraine in the previous round, this was the classic, tortuous trial of watching England in tournament football. You know, the one that would not be advised by any medical professional worth their salt: rocking back and forth, fingernails locked in mouth with a vice-like grip, topped off with a ceaseless, overwhelming urge to perform the full spectrum of ghastly bodily functions simultaneously, the experience is rarely one to be savoured.

The relief at the final whistle was palpable, as Wembley erupted into chorus upon chorus of 'Three Lions' and 'Sweet Caroline', as the once unthinkable outcome of England ending their 55-year wait to make a major tournament Final became a reality at last.

Five things we learned from England's epic Euro 2020 win over DenmarkFive things we learned from England's epic Euro 2020 win over Denmark
Five things we learned from England's epic Euro 2020 win over Denmark

Harry Maguire was imperious as ever at the back, Raheem Sterling was zippier than a rival fan scrambling to change their Twitter handle to include the flag of England's latest opponents - have fun, guys! - and Harold Edward Kane took a step closer to his eventual knighthood by keeping cool and burying Kasper Schmeichel's save in the most pressurised situation of his career so far.

As the nation basks in the warm haze of a hangover coupled with sheer, giddy joy, here's a look back at everything we learned from last night's epic:

1. England aren't afraid to use the dark arts

As penalty decisions go, that was an awfully soft one. Raheem Sterling was almost certainly 'looking for it', and England should count their blessings they got the decision.

But hey, the Three Lions have had their fair share of unjust decisions go against them over the years, and these things have a way of evening themselves out - after all, Harry Kane could arguably have been awarded a penalty in the first half.

Italy are essentially the Death Eaters from the world of Harry Potter when it comes to the footballing dark arts, and Gareth Southgate's side developing a similar cunning isn't the worst thing in the world ahead of the Final really, is it?

2. We need a back three for the Final

Early on, Denmark made Harry Maguire and John Stones look like they were on a passenger jet that had just had the door ripped open mid-flight, as an opposition overload saw the defensive duo rapidly hoovered over to the left side of the field, opening up a gaping chasm that the Danish attacking line so nearly exploited.

This, one would hope, will be enough to convince Gareth Southgate and his assistant Steve Holland that an extra man is needed at the back, and see a switch to the 3-4-3 for Sunday's Final.

That added security of slipping Kyle Walker alongside his fellow Yorkshiremen and popping Kieran Trippier out wide is exactly the comfort blanket England, and the fans, need to get through ordeal of watching the Final.

Safety first, lads!

3. England's full-backs are the tournament's best

After an edgy moment or two in the Ukraine game, Walker came roaring back against Denmark and put in a terrific shift at the back. Composed, confident, and playing with a relentless energy, the former Sheffield United man embodied everything positive about the current England team.

And, my word, then there's Luke Shaw. His Lazarus-like comeback has been glorious to watch, and he produced another heroic performance in an England shirt to consolidate his claim as a real contender for the Best Player of Tournament award.

Scintillating going forward, dogged in defence - England's full-backs have been the most impressive in this competition, without a doubt.

4. Southgate's doubters have been humiliated

Well, what do you know? That (apparently) tactically inept, bland, English Football Association yes-man, downright clueless, ex-Middlesbrough manager has only gone and taken England to the Final!

Southgate took a ridiculous amount of unfounded criticism ahead of the tournament - despite his side once again storming through the qualification campaign with some emphatic wins - and he has, in effect, given an almighty two fingers up to the haters - although he's far too polite to actually do that, obviously.

Pragmatism is an often maligned, dirty word in football, but the England boss has shown that patience and making head-over-heart decisions goes a long way to achieving success in tournament football.

They say around seven million pints were put away by England fans – as a whole, I hasten to add – last night, but that’s nothing compared to the number of steaming, humble pie portions being choked down by Gareth’s doubters.

Southgate, you're absolutely the one!

5. Jordan Pickford still has an error in him

You can take the boy out of the rave, but you'll never take the rave out of the boy, that much is abundantly clear.

The England number one and ex-Sunderland stopper had enjoyed a flawless tournament before last night, but his kicking and distribution were woeful at times against Denmark, and he'll need to get on top of those nerves as his side prepare to face a serious attacking threat in the shape of Italy.

Luck was on Pickford's side in the semi-final, with his biggest blunder resulting in a missed chance for the Danes, but the former Black Cat only has so many lives, and another moment of madness on Sunday could see him consigned to England heartbreak montages for decades to come.