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Denmark advances to last 16 at European Championship after 0-0 draw with Serbia

MUNICH (AP) — Denmark advanced to the last 16 at the European Championship after a gritty 0-0 draw with Serbia on Tuesday.

Its reward? A matchup against host nation Germany — on Saturday in Dortmund.

“Playing against Germany here with the Danish team, it can’t be better, can’t wait,” Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said. “It’s a great team but we’re a great team as well. And when we play the big the big nations, we always step up.”

The Danes finished Group C with three points, the same as Slovenia, but ended up in second place because of a better disciplinary record. Slovenia, which drew 0-0 with group-winner England, also advanced to the knockout stage at Euro 2024.

Denmark had most of the chances even though Serbia needed a victory to reach the next round. And almost all of those Danish opportunities came through Christian Eriksen, who was making a record 133rd appearance for his country.

Denmark and Slovenia finished even on points, goal difference and goals scored. There were also six yellow cards apiece for the players for both teams. But Denmark had a better disciplinary record after Slovenia assistant coach Milivoje Novakovic received a yellow card in his side's opening match against Denmark.

Serbia finished just a point behind.

“We’re disappointed because of the result. We haven’t been able to make the step that was lacking,” Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic said. "We were looking for this one opportunity, one goal, but unfortunately we didn’t succeed.

"This is football. We have to be very proud. Serbia showed themselves positively in a very even group.”

Slovenia's result against England also eliminated Croatia, which finished third in Group B.

Earlier Tuesday, Kylian Mbappé scored his first goal at a European Championship in France's 1-1 draw with Poland. The French finished runner-up in Group D behind Austria, which beat the Netherlands 3-2.

Mbappé, who wore a mask after breaking his nose in France’s opening game against Austria, scored from the penalty spot. Robert Lewandowski equalized with spot kick to give already-eliminated Poland its first point of the tournament.

Tennis great Novak Djokovic was in the stadium in Munich to cheer on Serbia. He walked onto the field before the match to chants of “Nole, Nole” from his country’s fans.

Tuesday's match had the longest wait for the first attempt in a Euro 2024 game, with Denmark defender Alexander Bah heading the ball wide in the 16th minute.

The Danes went closer five minutes later when Eriksen’s shot was pushed around the right post by Serbia goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic.

Denmark put the ball in the net moments later but it was disallowed because Jonas Wind had wrestled Rajkovic to the ground as both players and the ball went over the line following a corner from Eriksen.

Serbia also had a goal ruled out early in the second half. Luka Jovic, one of three halftime substitutes for Serbia, was offside before Joachim Andersen bundled the ball into his own net.

Disappointed Serbian fans hurled plastic cups onto the field after the disallowed goal, causing a brief stoppage as stewards ran to clear them.

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

Daniella Matar, The Associated Press