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Surprise, surprise: Euro comes alive | Football News – Times of India

June 30, 2021

It would be too definitive to declare that Monday, June 28, 2021, was the greatest day of tournament football in history.
Over the past 90 years, after all, there will have been days that have brought an even grander torrent of jaw-dropping drama. But none of them immediately leap to mind.
A year late, its span diminished and its carnival atmosphere doused, Euro 2020 had been ticking along quite nicely until Monday. Its group phase, always something of a slow burn, had been illuminated by Italy’s adventure and Denmark’s remarkable courage, by Spanish neurosis and Dutch energy.
There had been lots of goals — at such a clip that the tournament would have more in its first couple of weeks than Euro 2016 had across a month — and lots of spectacular ones, too: Patrik Schick’s vision, Luka Modric’s invention, Cristiano Ronaldo’s unruffled brilliance.
On Day 1 of the knockout round — a day that feels like the distant past but was, in fact, Saturday — Denmark swept past Wales, and Italy edged out Austria.

On Day 2, the Czech Republic stunned the Netherlands in Euro 2020’s first real shock, and Belgium beat Portugal in the tournament’s first consequential meeting of heavyweights.
What followed, on Day 3, could be presented as a natural extension of all that, as if the tournament had been building to this, in much the same way as the works of Shakespeare are a natural extension of the accounting ledgers in the city of Ur.
What followed — 14 goals, two extra-time games, one penalty shootout, one overwhelming favourite (France) endangered, saved and then eliminated on the final kick of the day — at times defied belief.

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