“Welcome back Christian” read a giant banner held up by Denmark fans in a section of Parken Stadium.
Seeing Christian Eriksen walk out in a Denmark jersey, in the same stadium in Copenhagen where he suffered a cardiac arrest nine months ago, was enough of a reason for the national team’s adoring fans to enjoy a big celebration on Tuesday.
He did more than that.
The biggest cheer during Denmark’s 3-0 win over Serbia in an emotionally powered international friendly came in the 58th minute, when Eriksen cut inside onto his right foot and powered home a shot from the edge of the area. He ran toward the crowd with a clenched fist and slid on his knees in unbridled joy.
It was Eriksen’s first appearance at Parken since his near-fatal collapse there during a match against Finland at the European Championship, and he was given a rapturous welcome by fans as he led Denmark team out for the friendly as captain.
He was afforded a standing ovation, too, when he was substituted in the 80th minute and — naturally — was named as man of the match a few minutes later to more cheers from the crowd.
Eriksen is enjoying a remarkable international comeback, not long after returning to club soccer with Brentford in the Premier League after being fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator.
He also scored two minutes after coming on as a halftime substitute against the Netherlands on Saturday in his first appearance for Denmark since his collapse.
Joakim Mæhle and Jesper Lindstrøm were the other scorers for Denmark against Serbia in a match between teams who will be heading to the World Cup at the end of the year.
European Champion Italy won’t be in Qatar, having lost shockingly to North Macedonia in a semifinal playoff in World Cup qualifying last week, and began its rehabilitation with a 3-2 victory over Turkey.
Gianluigi Donnarumma had come in for a lot of criticism for North Macedonia’s goal and he was again at fault for Turkey’s two goals. Cengiz Ünder’s shot went through his legs at his near post with less than four minutes on the clock and he appeared not to notice Serdar Dursun, who flicked in from close range late on.
However, Donnarumma did atone for his errors with two fantastic saves, recalling exactly why he is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
A much-changed Italy side only really got going midway through the first half and equalized when Bryan Cristante headed in a Cristiano Biraghi free kick in the 35th minute.
The Azzurri turned the match around completely four minutes later when Giacomo Raspadori gathered a through ball, shrugged off a defender and placed a precise finish into the back of the net.
Raspadori, who had only scored once before for Italy, pounced again in the 69th with a close-range effort into the near bottom corner after Biraghi had nodded on a cross.
Harry Maguire was jeered by sections of England fans during his team’s 3-0 win over 10-man Ivory Coast at Wembley Stadium.
The Manchester United center back has endured a disappointing season at club level but has been a solid performer for his national team, helping it reach the European Championship final just eight months ago.
Ollie Watkins, Raheem Sterling — England’s captain for the match — and Tyrone Mings scored the goals, with the Ivorians hampered by right back Serge Aurier’s first-half red card for two bookings when the score was 1-0.
BERGWIJN STRIKES AGAIN
Steven Bergwijn scored his third goal in two matches to earn the Netherlands a 1-1 draw against Germany after Thomas Mueller had given the visitors the lead at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Mueller capped a dominant first half for Germany when he fired into the roof of the net on the stroke of halftime after a cross by Jamal Musiala landed behind Kai Havertz and rolled invitingly for the Bayern Munich veteran.
Bergwijn, who scored twice against Denmark on Saturday, came on as a second-half substitute and equalized with a powerful volley after Denzel Dumfries headed the ball back across the face of the goal.
GIROUD EYES RECORD
Defending champions France were in total control against South Africa, a declining force on the African continent, and cruised to a 5-0 win as Kylian Mbappé scored twice in the northern city of Lille.
AC Milan forward Olivier Giroud bagged his 48th international goal and is now three goals away from Thierry Henry’s all-time record of 51 for France. Wissam Ben Yedder and Matteo Guendouzi were also on the scoresheet.
Mbappé put the hosts in front with a superb, curled shot from the edge of the box into the far top corner and added a second-half goal from the penalty spot.
Spain cruised to a 5-0 win in a friendly at home against Iceland as coach Luis Enrique kept experimenting ahead of the World Cup.
Álvaro Morata scored twice in the first half and Yéremy Pino and Pablo Sarabia — twice — added goals in the second to secure Spain the easy victory in A Coruña.
Morata was the only player kept in the starting lineup after the team’s 2-1 win against Albania on Saturday in Barcelona.
In Brussels, an experimental Belgium team enjoyed a comfortable night in a 3-0 win against Burkina Faso.
The Red Devils played without top players like Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku as coach Roberto Martinez had called up only players with fewer than 50 international appearances.
The lack of experience within the Belgian defense was blatant but goalkeeper Matz Sels kept a clean sheet as the hosts made up for their mistakes with a good offensive display capped with goals from Hans Vanaken, Leandro Trossard and Christian Benteke.
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