Christian Eriksen scored within two minutes of his return to international football on Saturday, rifling home with his first touch in Denmark’s 4-2 friendly defeat by the Netherlands – 288 days after he suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch at Euro 2020.
Eriksen collapsed during Denmark’s Euro 2020 clash with Finland at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium and had to have a device fitted to regulate his heart. It led to the end of his time at Serie A club Inter Milan.
The 30-year-old, who resumed his club career with Brentford on February 26, came on as a half-time substitute for the Danes in Amsterdam to win his 110th international cap.
After replacing Jesper Lindstrom, Eriksen scored Denmark’s second goal to put his side back in the contest at 3-2 when he brilliantly swept in Andreas Olsen’s low cross (47).
Steven Bergwijn (16), Nathan Ake (29) and Memphis Depay’s penalty (37) had the hosts 3-1 ahead after Jannik Vestergaard had briefly made it 1-1 midway through the first half (20).
Tottenham’s Bergwijn made it 4-2 with 19 minutes left at the Johan Cruyff Arena and Eriksen hit the post soon after.
Despite the Dutch ultimately the happier of the two sides with the win, the story of the game was all about one man.
“I felt very welcome [by the Netherlands fans],” Eriksen told Sky Sports. “I’ve been here before [for Ajax] for many years so of course they know me, but it was a very heart-warming reception for sure.
“I was happy the ball came to me and of course, it was a lovely finish. To start the comeback in international football like this was the perfect way.
“I’m looking forward to playing at the Qatar World Cup but there are a lot of games in between and I’m focused on them.”
Germany eased past Israel 2-0 in their friendly international, scoring twice in the first half with Kai Havertz and Timo Werner to make it eight wins in eight matches under coach Hansi Flick.
The Germans, who next face the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Tuesday, were missing several players including Joshua Kimmich and Serge Gnabry, and got off to a slow start.
They had little trouble reaching their opponents’ box but struggled with the last pass.
The hosts’ first good chance came on the half-hour mark with Israel keeper Ofir Marciano palming a low Havertz shot wide.
Marciano denied the attacking midfielder again in the 36th, blocking another effort from close range, but the ‘keeper was beaten by Havertz’s glancing header from the resulting corner.
Germany went into the break with a two-goal cushion when Havertz’s Chelsea team-mate Werner flicked in an Ilkay Gundogan free-kick in first-half stoppage time.
A number of substitutions in the second half took much of the pace out of the game and Thomas Mueller missed a chance to score when his 89th-minute penalty hit the woodwork.
Israel missed their own chance to cut the deficit when Germany’s Kevin Trapp saved Yonathan Cohen’s stoppage-time spot-kick.
Flick, who took over after last year’s European Championship, continued his winning start, with his team focusing on peaking during the World Cup in Qatar in November.
Spain’s Dani Olmo struck a stunning goal in added time to snatch a 2-1 victory against Albania in a friendly on Saturday before a passionate crowd in their first game in Catalonia in 18 years.
Roared on at nearly packed Cornella-El Prat stadium, last year’s Euro semi-finalists dominated from the start but had to wait until the 75th minute to open the scoring as Ferran Torres finished from close range from a pass by substitute Yeremy.
But a few minutes later Myrto Uzuni equalised with Albania’s only shot on target helped by a deflection off Eric Garcia’s face.
As the game looked to be heading for a draw, Olmo received a short pass from Jordi Alba and curled a shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Spain next take on Iceland in A Coruna on Tuesday as they continue the build-up to this year’s World Cup in Qatar, which will be played in November and December.
England began their World Cup preparations with a 2-1 comeback victory over Switzerland at Wembley Stadium which extended their unbeaten run to a record 21 games.
Harry Kane moved level second with Sir Bobby Charlton in the all-time England scoring charts as he registered his 49th international goal from the penalty to seal the Three Lions’ victory 12 minutes from time.
Luke Shaw’s fierce drive (45+1) had seen England recover from an underwhelming first-half display in which Breel Embolo headed the visitors in front (22) and Switzerland struck the woodwork on two occasions.
The victory extends England’s unbeaten run to a record-breaking 21 matches – the longest run in the national team’s history – laying the ideal foundations as Gareth Southgate’s side bid to go one step further in a major tournament at this year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Substitute Alan Browne ensured the Republic of Ireland’s big day did not end in defeat as his late equaliser secured a creditable draw against world number one side Belgium.
Browne powered home an 86th-minute header as the Football Association of Ireland’s centenary game ended 2-2 at the Aviva Stadium.
It was no more than Stephen Kenny’s side deserved – they are now unbeaten in seven outings and have now lost only once in 11, and that against Portugal – after Chiedozie Ogbene had cancelled out Michy Batshuayi’s sumptuous opener, only for Hans Vanaken’s deflected header to hand the visitors the lead once again.