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Laser pen, dubious penalty decision mar England win

By Rediff Sports
Last updated on: July 08, 2021 18:06 IST
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IMAGE: Raheem Sterling, who has been accused of diving before in England's Premier League, went over in the box after minimal contact from Denmark's Joakim Maehle resulting in a penalty which Harry Kane converted to give the hosts victory. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

England edged past Denmark 2-1 on Wednesday in their Euro semi-final on Wednesday but that win came after two controversies.


In the 104th minute of the match, Denmark’s keeper Kasper Schmeichel was targeted by a spectator, who shone a laser pen on him, as England captain Harry Kane stepped up for a penalty in extra time to give the home side victory during Wednesday's match at Wembley.

The keeper saved Kane's initial effort but could not stop the rebound which sent Gareth Southgate's side into Sunday's final against Italy.

UEFA said on Thursday that they will probe the matter and opened disciplinary proceedings against England on the matter.

Another controversy erupted over the legitimacy of the penalty awarded to England at extra time -- that proved to be the match winner.

An array of media and football figures joined Danish fans in condemning the penalty as too cheap for such a big game, some saying England's haughty views on diving looked hypocritical in view of Sterling's tumble at the lightest of touches.

"They always say how bad it is when a foreign player tries to deceive the referee with a dive. In pure English football, this does not happen. Apart from, of course, in a European Championship semi-final," said Spanish newspaper Marca.

"It would be nice for English football to stop giving lectures to the rest of the continent about diving."

Raheem Sterling, who has been accused of diving before in England's Premier League, went over in the box after minimal contact from Denmark's Joakim Maehle.

Dutch referee Danny Makkelie pointed to the spot and upheld that after briefly consulting the Video Assistant Refereee, though without reviewing the move on the pitchside monitor.

Harry Kane's penalty was saved by Kasper Schmeichel but the captain followed up to score and give England the win.

"This was a soft penalty for me ... far too cheap a penalty for a Euro semi-final," ex-referee Jonas Eriksson, who officiated at Euro 2012 and 2016, said on Swedish network SVT.

"I am mostly surprised and annoyed that the VAR doesn't tell the referee. This decides which team goes through."

Sterling himself said after the game it was a clear penalty with his leg clipped. But former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is now international governing body FIFA's head of global football development, was among those doubting.

"In a moment like that it's important the referee is absolutely convinced it was a penalty. It was not clear enough to say 'yes it is'. He should have at least had a look at the screen," he said on Qatari network beIN Sports.

Roma manager Jose Mourinho went further, telling radio station Talksport "For me, it's never a penalty" even though he said the best team won and he was happy for England.

Denmark might also have felt aggrieved by the fact a second ball was on the pitch when Sterling entered the area, which according to regulations could have led to play being halted.

"They won with a penalty which was a blatant dive," fumed former Germany player and pundit Dietmar Hamann. "England always prides itself on being the home of fair play and no diving."

Elsewhere, France's L'Equipe newspaper said England had only breached the Danish defence with "a questionable, not least generous, penalty", while in Italy - England's opponents in Sunday's final - Gazzetta dello Sport said "it's a shame they get these little bits of help, because they don't need it".

"It's diving home," tweeted Italian journalist Tancredi Palmeri in a sarcastic reference to England's football anthem "It's coming home."

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