Kasper Hjulmand’s side will face Wales in a knockout tie at Amsterdam’s Johan Cruyff Arena on Saturday night (June 26) after a fine display on home soil saw them claim second spot in Group B against the odds.
Young Mikkel Damsgaard - drafted in for the last two games as the replacement for Christian Eriksen - and Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen both netted sublime strikes for the Danes to send their passionate fans into raptures, while Yussuf Poulsen was gifted a goal and the irrepressible Joakim Maehle was also on target on an unforgettable evening.
Making the knockout stages is a remarkable achievement for Denmark, who opened their campaign with back-to-back defeats and had to cope with star player Eriksen suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch in the first half of their opening game against Finland.
But they fought admirably without their talisman, who was discharged from hospital on Friday after a successful operation to fit a heart-starting device and paid a surprise visit to his team-mates in Helsinger as they prepared for the match against Russia at the Parken Stadium.
“We go into the game with the mentality that we have to get there (to the knockout stage), and after everything we've been through I think we deserve it," Danish captain Simon Kjaer had said on Sunday, while coach Hjulmand remarked that it was like their Euros “are starting right now”.
Denmark also received a helping hand on the night from Belgium, with an unfortunate own goal from goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky and Romelu Lukaku’s late effort securing a 2-0 win for the world’s no1-ranked international team over Finland.
That result in Saint Petersburg meant that Belgium secured their spot as group winners on the back of three successive victories, with Finland crucially finishing third behind Denmark.
Three points and a -2 goal difference will surely not be enough for the Finns to claim one of the four knockout spots offered to the best third-place group finishers.
As for Russia, who did briefly pull it back to 2-1 against Denmark with 20 minutes to go thanks to Artem Dzyuba’s penalty past Kasper Schmeichel after Jannik Vestergaard had fouled substitute Aleksandr Sobolev, they dropped from second to fourth after being well beaten and return home in disappointment and no doubt wondering what might have been.