Sorensen and Shearer: When Denmark put one over on England – and Sunderland fans were ecstatic
Usually the English don’t become too worked up about Denmark – but in the Euro 2020 semi-final at Wembley we’re rooting for a home victory; preferably a crushing one.
Looking back to St James’ Park on November 18, 2000, Denmark most certainly got one over on England and English fans were more than happy to see it. That is, the English fans who also happened to support Sunderland
The same fixture the previous season had seen Newcastle score first, but lose 2-1. Magpies fans demanded vengeance. But a year later, with 82 minutes played, exactly the same thing was happening again.
Nevertheless, at this point SAFC legend Niall Quinn committed a perfectly ludicrous foul on Robert Lee. Even the most sensationally biased Mackem couldn’t argue with the decision to award a penalty.
Up stepped Newcastle and England goal machine Alan Shearer. Sunderland fans were already wondering if a 2-2 draw could be salvaged, which would actually have been a decent result.
Expectation among the Toon faithful could have been chopped up and served in buns. Shearer had a good penalty record.
But so did Thomas Sorensen. Sunderland’s Danish international goalkeeper was about to become immortal on Wearside.
Shearer’s kick was not great, but would still have gone in had Sorensen dived right. He dived left. The Dane shoved it away for a corner. To Sunderland fans it felt as good as if their team had scored again.
The game finished 2-1 to Sunderland and their fans’ chanting of “Shearer! Shearer!” was full-throated – and very sarcastic.
An epilogue came three years later. By November 2003 Sorensen was playing for Aston Villa in a 1-1 draw at Newcastle.
In the 80th minute Shearer took an identical penalty. Same keeper, same end of St James’ Park, same part of the goal, same outcome. England 0, Denmark 1. Again. Even today Shearer is understandably troubled by Sorensen.
Speaking of his favourite penalty saves, the Dane said in 2017: “Those two would have to be up there. I saved a penalty from (Cristiano) Ronaldo which is a good scalp to have as well.”
Sorensen made Denmark a popular nation among Wearsiders back then. This was despite the 1999 signing of Danish striker Carsten Fredgaard, whose Sunderland career has been most generously described as “disappointing”.