Amsterdam, March 27 – Over nine months after his cardiac arrest at the European Championship, Christian Eriksen returned for Denmark with a rapid goal in a 4-2 loss in a friendly against the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Saturday.
Within two minutes after Eriksen came on as a substitute at the start of the second half, Andreas Skov Olsen pulled the ball back and Eriksen hit home for Denmark. Even the Dutch crowd in the Johan Cruijff Arena cheered and applauded for this goal of the opponent as it was scored by the 30-year-old Danish midfielder, reports Xinhua.
On June 12, 2021, Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during the European Championship match against Finland. The Dane got to wear an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) and was given the green light by his doctors in December to resume his football career after completing months of individual recovery, reports Xinhua.
Eriksen had to cancel his contract with Internazionale as professional athletes was not allowed to play with an ICD in Italy, the only country in the world with such a rule. He joined Premier League club Brentford by the end of January and returned to the Danish squad this month. As Eriksen recovered from a Covid-19 infection recently, he didn’t start the match against the Netherlands.
Both teams already secured a 2022 World Cup berth and for both, it was their first match in the year of the World Cup. Dutch head coach Louis van Gaal already said beforehand that he would use this week, with a match against Germany coming on Tuesday, as preparation for the World Cup.
Against Denmark, Van Gaal introduced the system he wants to play in Qatar, a 3-4-2-1 system inspired by last season’s Chelsea of coach Thomas Tuchel, with three up front in the shape of a triangle, which according to Van Gaal can also change in a triangle with one target man and two attackers behind.
The most surprising name in the line-up was the 28-years-old SC Freiburg goalkeeper Mark Flekken, who profited from the absence of injured Justin Bijlow and Jasper Cillessen. Another surprise was Atalanta midfielder Teun Koopmeiners next to Frenkie de Jong on the midfield.
The 40,000 spectators in Amsterdam saw an entertaining match with the Dutch dominating from the start. The three up front, Steven Berghuis, Steven Bergwijn and Memphis Depay, combined through the Danish defense several times.
After a cross by Daley Blind, Bergwijn headed in the opening goal in the 16th minute. Four minutes later Denmark equalized after Jannik Vestergaard beat Blind in the air and Dutch goalkeeper Flekken hesitated to come out of his goal. Manchester City defender Nathan Ake put the home team in front again by heading in a cross by Berghuis.
After Berghuis was brought down, the Netherlands was awarded a penalty by referee Lawrence Visser, which was converted by Depay, scoring his 39th goal for his country.
Then, just after halftime, Eriksen had his glorious moment and Bergwijn had the second one in the 71st minute. The Tottenham Hotspur forward, who scored in the decisive World Cup qualifier in November last year, curled in his second goal to make it 4-2.
Eriksen, who dreams to play in the 2022 World Cup, almost had a second goal as well but struck the post with a stunning strike from about 30 metres.