If a week is a long time in football, a fortnight is an eternity.
Just ask the players and fans of Denmark, who began the Euro 2020 tournament two weeks ago with shock and sadness, but who have been left with utter joy after a dramatic final morning in Group B.
Two losses in their first two games meant the Danes’ chances of progressing to the round of 16 were slim at best, and not solely within their control.
The tournament had started in the worst possible fashion, when the Danes lost 1-0 to fellow Scandinavians Finland, in a game where the last thing people remembered was the actual football.
Instead, the wrenching scenes that went round the world focused on the shock collapse of star midfielder Christian Eriksen, who went from jogging away from goal to lying on the turf, fighting for his life after suffering a cardiac arrest.
As tears flowed from those on the pitch and in the stands, medical staff worked on Eriksen for half an hour before taking him to hospital.
While Eriksen recuperated, another loss to Belgium followed in an emotional return to the field of play by the team, leaving the Danes on the verge of elimination.
Going into the final game of the group against Russia, there was therefore a fierce desire for Denmark to finish on a high note.
Before the game, Danish fans thronged the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, a sea of red in the stands all cheering for their team.
The longer the game went on, the more the tension rose, particularly as Finland was drawing with Belgium in the other game, a score that was doing Denmark’s chances of advancing no good.
Finally, with half-time beginning to approach, Mikkel Damsgaard received the ball from Pierre-Emile Højbjerg 25 metres out in the centre of the park.
The young Sampdoria forward looked up, stepped to his right and unfurled a curling, dipping shot that left Russian goalkeeper Matfei Safonov standing.
This set off wild celebrations in the stadium and released some of the tension. It was 1-0 at half-time, however, and everyone realised that one defensive slip could end Danish hopes.
When the slip came, however, it was from Russia, with an awful back pass letting in Yussef Poulsen for a tap-in goal to double Denmark’s lead.
With 20 minutes to go, the game took another turn as Russia was given a penalty for a foul in the box, and Artem Dzyuba fired home from the spot.
The nerves returned, only for some relief a few minutes later when news emerged that Belgium had taken the lead against Finland in the other game.
Then, when the ball fell cleanly to Andreas Christensen on the edge of the box with 11 minutes left, the Danish right-back struck the purest of right-foot thunderbolts, that rocketed past Safonov in the Russian goal to hit the net — and the noise levels erupted in the stadium.
Players and staff ran from everywhere to converge on Christensen near the corner flag, as the Danish crowd began to believe their team was safe.
Three minutes later, any last doubts were erased, when Joakim Maehle made it four.
As the final whistle blew, the noise peaked as the party kicked off in the stands and on the pitch.
Fans embraced, players and coaches punched the air. Amid a cacophany of sound, the Danish team gathered themselves in the middle of the ground and did the now-familiar curtain call, where everyone stands in a line and holds hands, then dances forward and takes a bow.
There was a mix of joy, pride and relief that the Danish story at Euro 2020 was not over.
In the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen after the match, the celebrations continued after the game.
Danish journalist Gisle Thorsen tweeted a video of fans chanting, with a caption that translates as: “Nørrebro. It’s going to be a long, beautiful night.”
When the fans and players take a breath tomorrow, they will begin to focus on Sunday morning, Australian time, when the Danes will take on Wales in Amsterdam for a place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.
In the meantime, however, everyone in Denmark, not to mention most football fans around the world, are happy that the team has something more to celebrate after a tough fortnight.