Sterling reacts to controversial penalty in England’s Euro 2020 win over Denmark

Raheem Sterling declared he won a “clear penalty” amid the controversy surrounding England’s match-winning spot kick against Denmark.

Sterling went down under the challenges of Mathias Jensen and Joakim Maehle in the first period of extra-time, with the teams still level at 1-1.

The referee immediately pointed to the spot and a VAR check backed up the original decision.

Three Lions captain Harry Kane stepped up from 12 yards and saw his initial effort saved by Kasper Schmeichel, but he was able to convert the rebound.

The penalty was labelled “soft” by Gary Neville and Roy Keane blasted the decision, but Sterling insists he was fouled.

Sterling went down under the challenge of Jensen and Joakim Maehle

“Yeah, I went into the box, he stuck his right leg out, it touched my leg. Clear penalty,” the Manchester City winger told ITV Sport when asked if the spot kick was justified.

Kane’s initial effort was saved well by Leicester City goalkeeper Schmeichel down to his left before the Tottenham striker fired into an empty net.

“If it goes in the back of the net, that’s all that matters,” said Sterling. “The ‘keeper saved it but the rebound, we’ll take that all day.”

Turning his attention to England’s overall display, Sterling hailed England for recovering from Mikkel Damsgaard’s free-kick which opened the scoring for Denmark.

Sterling played a key role as Simon Kjaer was forced to put the ball into the back of the net to equalise for the Three Lions in the 39th minute.

“It was a tough performance today, we had to dig in deep,” the 26-year-old added. “It’s the first time we’ve conceded in the tournament and I thought we coped, showed a good team spirit and came back to win the game.

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“We knew it was difficult to go behind, got the equaliser and we knew we had to stay patient.

“We knew with the legs we have in the team, the aggressiveness, the power, it was only a matter of time before we brought them down, and we got the penalty in the end.”

England’s victory over Denmark sets up a final showdown versus Italy, and Sterling says England’s celebrations will not last for long with a challenging fixture on Sunday.

“It’s a big step in the right direction,” he said. “Once we get back in the dressing room that’s it over, we’ve got to focus on the weekend now. Take it step by step, that’s all we can do.

“Now for Italy. We celebrate a little bit and from tomorrow we focus on Italy.”

The former Liverpool prospect also heaped praise on the support at Wembley, saying: “What football means to this country, you see by the numbers they came out in tonight. The energy, the atmosphere, cheering, shirts off, it’s top.”

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