Euro 2020: Should England's penalty have stood with two balls on the pitch vs Denmark?

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England fans will forever remember where they were when they booked themselves a place in the Euro 2020 final.

England reach Euro 2020 final

After 55 years of hurt, the Three Lions have reached their first major final since the 1966 World Cup and will face Italy on Sunday for the chance to be crowned champions of Europe.

However, before England supporters even begin to picture Gareth Southgate's men walking out against the Azzurri, it would be rude not too savour what was a truly historic night for the country.

And it could easily have panned so differently with Denmark, who have been nothing short of heroes all tournament long, becoming the first team to end England's clean-sheet streak at the Euros.

England vs Denmark match reaction (Football Terrace)

England's controversial penalty

With 60,000 nerves jangling across Wembley Stadium, Mikkel Damsgaard fired Denmark into the lead with a stunning free-kick to punish Luke Shaw's foul on Andreas Christensen.

But the Danish lead was short-lived because England fired back before the break with Simon Kjaer, who was under pressure from Raheem Sterling, turning Bukayo Saka's cross into his own net.

From that point onwards, England were undoubtedly the better team, but it wasn't until they won an extra-time penalty that Harry Kane was able to smash home the goal that sent them to the final.

And the spot-kick came under controversial circumstances with many footballing figures, including Arsene Wenger, feeling as though Sterling went down too easily to warrant a spot-kick.

Two footballs in plat at once

However, the anger surrounding England's penalty go way beyond the nature of Joakim Mæhle's tackle with some fans noticing another potential problem mere seconds before Sterling hit the turf.

That's because photographs and videos from the broadcast clearly show that two footballs were on the pitch simultaneously when Sterling made his daring run into the penalty area.

We're not talking about the other side of the pitch either because the two balls were within just a few feet of one another, which begs the question: should the referee have stopped play?

Well, just a few seconds spent on social media will tell you that plenty of supporters think that should have been the case, so be sure to check out some of the impassioned Twitter reaction down below:

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Wowsers. It's clearly struck a nerve with people...

Ok, cool, but what are the rules?

Now, the debate ultimately boils down to whether the referee thought the additional ball affected the play at all, which isn't unreasonable to suggest when the two projectiles were so close to each other.

According to The Sun, match official Danny Makkelie would have been well within his right to stop the play and bring the move back to restart it with a drop ball.

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They speculate that either the Dutchman didn't spot that a second ball had entered play or that he deemed it not to have interfered with play, which seems to be the more realistic hypothesis.

Although the latent ball was indeed close to the phase of play that saw Sterling win the penalty, videos don't give any indication that either the England star or Mæhle were thrown off by it.

2020/21 FIFA Laws of the Game

Or to put things more definitively, the 2020/21 FIFA Laws of the Game state that if "an extra ball, other object or animal enters the field of play during the match, the referee must: stop play (and restart with a dropped ball) only if it interferes with play."

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In other words, England were pretty safe as far as the double football matter is concerned. At least, as far as we can tell and that certainly won't end the debate surrounding Sterling's fall...

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