Christian Eriksen scores on the return as the Dutch beat Denmark 4-2


Denmark’s Christian Eriksen shoots a corner during the international friendly soccer match between the Netherlands and Denmark at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Saturday March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)


Happy to see you again.

Christian Eriksen scored moments after coming on as a substitute for Denmark against the Netherlands on Saturday to deliver a dream comeback in his first international game since suffering cardiac arrest at the European Championship in June.

The Netherlands won the open game 4-2, but the result of the friendly seemed almost out of place for the crowd at the stadium where Eriksen first came to prominence for Ajax.

“Being back here is always wonderful,” Dutch-speaking Eriksen told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “I spent some great years here.”

He says he still often thinks of the night he crashed out in Copenhagen against Finland.

“It’s part of me. It’s part of the world,” he said.

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand also enjoyed the comeback.

“It’s always a pleasure to watch Christian Eriksen play football,” he said.

Eriksen, fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, received a pat on the back from Hjulmand, a handshake from Memphis Depay and a standing ovation from much of the Johan Cruyff Arena as he trotted onto the pitch for return to international competition at the start of the second half.

Hjulmand said he used certain tactics with Eriksen before sending him off. Then he had a simple message: “I said, ‘Enjoy it and welcome back.'”

Just over two minutes later, Eriksen got on the scoresheet, firing a powerful shot to cut the Dutch lead to 3-2 after a thrilling first half.

“I got goosebumps,” said Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt. “It’s great to have him back, and the way he scored and hit the post today showed his absolute class.”

The Dutch dominated before the break with goals from Steven Bergwijn, Nathan Ake and Depay.

Jannik Vestergaard’s 19th-minute header kept the Danes in touch.

Bergwijn opened the scoring in the 16th minute, rising to meet a Daley Blind cross from the left.

Vestergaard’s equalizer came three minutes later past goalkeeper Mark Flekken, making his Netherlands debut.

Aké restored the Dutch lead in the 29th and Depay converted a 38th-minute penalty to give the Netherlands a two-goal cushion at half-time.

Eriksen’s powerful shot to close the lead was his 37th international goal, equaling Danish great Michael Laudrup.

Bergwijn scored his second of the night after a powerful outing from midfield by Frenkie de Jong. The winger picked up De Jong’s pass, cut inside from the left and curled a shot over Kasper Schmeichel. Bergwijn’s last four goals in all competitions have come against Schmeichel.

Still, Eriksen wasn’t done. He fired a long-range shot in the 74th that beat Flekken, but slammed into the post.

Full-time, he got a big hug from Dutch defender Daley Blind, a former Ajax team-mate who also has an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. Eriksen then walked alone to a corner of the pitch to soak up the applause from the Danish section of fans as his teammates also cheered.

“For the fans here it was the perfect game,” said De Ligt.

Eriksen has resumed his playing career in recent weeks at English Premier League club Brentford but only started on the bench after recently recovering from COVID-19.

“He’s back and has the best football ahead of him,” Hjulmand said.


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