Wales 0 Denmark 4: No repeat of 2016 heroics as inspired Danes dump 10-man Dragons out of Euro 2020 after Dolberg double
KASPER DOLBERG left Wales feeling pig sick with a brace to send Robert Page’s side crashing out of Euro 2020 after this hammering.
The Denmark forward gave keeper Danny Ward no chance with a superb arcing first-half finish with his right boot into the bottom corner.
Then Dolberg pounced on a poor clearance by Neco Williams to slam home just three minutes into the second half before Joakim Maehle and Martin Braithwaite sealed this rout late on.
Not even Wales talisman Gareth Bale could save their bacon as Page’s sorry side could only muster one shot on target as Denmark dominated this last-16 contest.
Harry Wilson was also red carded for a challenge on Maehle as Page’s side suffered a nightmare in Amsterdam.
Controversial VAR calls went against Wales for both of Dolberg’s two goals.
The first for an offside check against Martin Braithwaite and the second when striker Kieffer Moore appeared to be barged over by Danish captain Simon Kjaer in the build-up.
Yet Dolberg’s strikes stood and ensured there would be no repeat of Wales’ glorious run to the semi-finals five summers ago.
Now the Danes travel to Baku for a quarter-final showdown against either the Netherlands or the Czech Republic next Saturday.
Captain Bale vowed Wales would relish the underdogs tag but the odds were stacked heavily against them in the Dutch capital from the start.
Ahead of only the fifth knockout match at a major tournament in Welsh history – the others being Gothenburg at the 1958 World Cup as well as Paris, Lille and Lyon during that golden summer in France in 2016 – Page’s side had travelled the third most of the remaining last-16 sides.
If Wales’ group games against Switzerland and Turkey in Baku as well facing Italy in Rome wasn’t demanding enough, they also had to contend with another ‘away’ match at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Welsh fans had been banned from travelling due to Covid-19 restrictions while the Danes were given the green light to travel as long as they only stayed for 12 hours in this north-western part of Europe.
The Danish FA announced they had officially sold 4,325 tickets but it felt like many more had turned up having made the short 385-mile trip from Copenhagen.
Prior to kick-off, there were big cheers from the majority in the reduced 16,000-capacity crowd when a Christian Eriksen No10 shirt was unveiled to show support for the ex-Tottenham star, who suffered a horror cardiac arrest a fortnight ago.
The outpouring of emotion for Eriksen was visible from the partisan crowd.
Then there was also a nice touch when Bale presented Denmarkcaptain Simon Kjaer with a framed Wales shirt emblazoned with ‘Eriksen 10’ and ‘Brysia wella’ – which means ‘get well soon’ in Welsh.
Despite drawing the short straw on travel and support, Wales actually made an encouraging and positive start.
Chris Mepham’s header was deflected wide by Kjaer before Bale flashed a left-footed shot just wide of Schmeichel’s far post after a galloping run.
Yet the Danes quickly worked their way into the tie as giant Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard headed over from a corner.
And then Kasper Hjulmand’s side struck on 27 minutes courtesy of Dolberg’s supreme finish.
The Nice striker found space 25 yards out after he received Mikkel Damsgaard’s pass.
Neither Mepham or central defensive partner Joe Rodon, already on a yellow card, closed Dolberg down and the Dane curled a fine shot past the helpless Ward.
VAR saw no reason to intervene and Wales’ task got ever harder.
Dolberg, brought into the Denmark team to replace hamstring victim Poulsen, enjoyed his strike and took the acclaim of the crowd as he celebrated being back on his old stomping ground at Ajax with his arms out wide.
After a bright start, Wales lost their early energy and impetus and Denmark took command with Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Dan James starved of possession.
Chelsea centre-back Andreas Christensen moved into midfield to keep a close on Juventus star Ramsey and the tactics worked a treat.
Trailing by one goal, the Dragons suffered two further setbacks before the half-time whistle.
Connor Roberts appeared to pull a groin muscle and was replaced by Neco Williams.
The Swansea right-back was distraught, pulling his shirt over his head to avoid showing his disappointment before he kicked an advertising hoard as he approached the tunnel area.
Then Moore was shown a yellow card by German referee Daniel Siebert.
Wales had not come from behind to win a match in any competition since the stunning 3-1 triumph over Belgium at the last Euros.
Page’s men needed the interval to regroup but the last-16 tie was effectively over on 48 minutes.
With play allowed to continue after Kjaer fouled Moore, Braithwaite skipped past Rodon and Williams’ error landed at the feet of Dolberg for a simple finish.
Page threw on Wilson, Tyler Roberts and David Brooks as Wales huffed and puffed in search of a way back into the game as Bale headed wide.
But the experienced and savvy Danes eased to victory, Mathias Jensen and Braithwaite both hit the post before Maehle scored the third.
Wilson was sent off for a foul on the same player before Braithwaite had the final word with a close-range finish after another VAR check.