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Euro 2024 – Netherlands 1-2 England: Ollie Watkins’ Late Stunner Fires Three Lions into Final vs Spain

Euro 2024: Watkins' Late Goal Sends England to Final

Ollie Watkins’ brilliant late strike secured England a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands, sending the Three Lions into the Euro 2024 final against Spain in Berlin.

England has now reached the final of back-to-back European Championships, marking the first time the men’s team has progressed to a major tournament final on foreign soil. Watkins was the goalscoring hero, collecting a pass from fellow substitute Cole Palmer in added time before shooting into the far corner and igniting wild celebrations across the country.

The Three Lions were dazzling in the first half, driven by the efforts of Phil Foden and Kobbie Mainoo. Despite this, they had to come from behind for the third time in the knockout stages. A brilliant strike from Xavi Simons (7) put the Dutch ahead after Declan Rice lost possession in his own half. England’s equalizer came 11 minutes later in controversial circumstances. Harry Kane took a hit to his right foot from Denzel Dumfries as he shot at goal, leading the referee to consult the pitchside monitor after a VAR review. Kane then expertly converted the penalty, beating Brighton goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen.

After the game, Kane told ITV Sport, “My foot is hanging off so he did catch me. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t. I was happy to step up and happy to be in the final.” England dominated the remainder of the first half, with Foden going close twice – Dumfries cleared off the line before another effort hit the woodwork. The Dutch had few chances, with Dumfries also hitting the woodwork.

The second half saw England revert to a slower, more laborious style that had been prevalent for much of Euro 2024. Jordan Pickford was called into action to deny Virgil van Dijk, while halftime substitute Wout Weghorst made life difficult for the tiring England defense.

Gareth Southgate’s side thought they had taken the lead when Bukayo Saka scored from Kyle Walker’s cross, but the goal was ruled out for offside. However, there was time for one more chance, and Watkins delivered a sensational finish. He received a pass from Palmer, turned away from Stefan de Vrij, and fired through the defender’s legs into the far corner, sending England fans into raptures.

Analysis: England’s Extraordinary Belief

When Ronald Koeman made tactical changes, there were echoes of past near-misses for England. Gareth Southgate’s response was to substitute Harry Kane and Phil Foden for Ollie Watkins and Cole Palmer, who combined for the winning goal.

This achievement is monumental for the country and for Southgate. England’s football history is still dominated by the 1966 World Cup win, but the other two finals reached by the men’s team have come under Southgate’s leadership. “There has been a definite shift,” he said, referring to the mood within his squad. Despite not being the favorites, England showed extraordinary belief and resilience.

Southgate praised the entire squad’s readiness, especially the substitutes. “The most important thing is that the whole squad are ready to come into the game. We spend a lot of time with those guys [the substitutes], and I’m so chuffed for Ollie.”

Koeman: We Maybe Deserved Extra-Time

Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman told ITV Sport, “My feeling was in the last 20, 25 minutes, maybe our team is a little bit more fresh than England. But they scored a late goal in the last minute and that’s football. Sometimes I don’t say it’s unlucky because it’s a great goal. Maybe we deserved extra-time, but it’s like that. We can be proud about our team, our players because we had a great tournament and unlucky that it stops tonight.”

Next Up: The Final

England will face Spain in the Euro 2024 final on Sunday in Berlin. The Three Lions will look to build on their extraordinary performance and claim their first European Championship title on foreign soil.

Credit: Sky Sports

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