90min
UEFA Euro 2020

Euro 2020 player of the last 16: Kasper Dolberg

Jack Gallagher
Dolberg scored a brace against Wales
Dolberg scored a brace against Wales / Olaf Kraak - Pool/Getty Images
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Denmark have had to overcome numerous hurdles so far at Euro 2020 – Christian Eriksen's alarming collapse of course the most notable of all.

Subsequent setbacks may seem unsubstantial, impossible to compare to a life-threatening incident that continues to overshadow the team's outstanding performances on the pitch. But as well as battling on without their talisman, Denmark have had to recover from losing their first two matches to advance from Group B.

An epic 4-1 win over Russia ensured they did so - finishing second and securing a last 16 clash with Wales in the more favourable half of the draw.

Another blow followed, as Yussuf Poulsen was ruled out of the opening knockout match with a thigh injury, robbing Denmark of the forward who had scored in their previous two matches.

Rather than let that issue interrupt their momentum, however, Denmark turned to Kasper Dolberg. According to Opta's player index, the Nice striker delivered the performance of the round in a sensational 4-0 win.

Even as Kasper Hjulmand was forced to reconfigure his attack in Eriksen's absence, handing a prominent role to Mikkel Damsgaard and encouraging creativity from other areas of the pitch where Joakim Maehle and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg obliged, Dolberg watched defeats to Finland and Belgium from the bench.

A role as an unused substitute in a pair of narrow losses does not speak to confidence in the forward, who got half an hour against Russia only after Poulsen had scored. That was Dolberg's second appearance at a major tournament – his first, at the 2018 World Cup, lasted 15 minutes in a goalless draw with France.

His third, though, he will never forget. Dolberg played only 70 minutes but won the game with two goals in that time, his display ranked by Opta behind only Robert Lewandowski's own two-goal showing against Sweden.

The former Ajax man was back in familiar surroundings in Amsterdam, where he scored a career-high 16 league goals in 2016-17.

Dolberg's career has not gone entirely to plan since, with just six goals – one every 321.5 minutes – for Nice in Ligue 1 last term, but his obvious talent was on show as he netted with two of four attempts worth a combined 1.08 expected goals on Saturday.

Dolberg's stats
Dolberg's stats

And Denmark's latest hero still has time on his side. Just 23, he is his country's youngest scorer in the knockout stages of a European Championship.

At international level, Dolberg is already proven. He has eight goals since the start of 2019, trailing only Eriksen (11). With momentum and a kind draw on their side, Denmark – led by Damsgaard, Maehle and now Dolberg – will be confident they can continue a remarkable run and ensure a difficult tournament is remembered primarily for the right reasons.

Of course, the silverware won at Euro 1992 remains the benchmark.

Henrik Larsen's semi-final brace helped Denmark en route to a stunning triumph – that was previously the former European champions' only tournament knockout double until Dolberg got his big chance.

Quarter-final opponents the Czech Republic now face a man in form.


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