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    England’s best and worst players in dramatic semi-final victory over the Netherlands

    It was a finish that Aston Villa supporters have grown accustomed to, and one now every England fan won’t forget in a hurry.

    After bossing the opening 45 minutes, England had huffed and puffed in the second half of their Euro 2024 semi-final against the Netherlands – extra-time was seeming inevitable. Ronald Koeman’s early changes had finally provided stability, and the Three Lions may have sleepwalked into an all too familiar defeat had the Dutch capitalised on their periods of second half control.

    But, once Gareth Southgate rolled a dice of his own ahead of the game’s final act, England’s momentum was restored and it was two of his substitutes that combined for the defining moment.

    Ollie Watkins, you hero. England are in back-to-back European Championship finals, and here were the best and worst players from Wednesday’s semi-final triumph at Signal Iduna Park.

    Phil Foden – 8/10

    Phil Foden

    Foden produced his best performance of the tournament / BSR Agency/GettyImages

    Foden has barely offered glimmers at the tournament, but the Manchester City star produced a performance worthy of fitting into his majestic 2023/24 highlight reel.

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    Seemingly let off the leash in an inside right position, Foden was keen to affect proceedings as often as he could. He took advantage of an overrun Dutch midfield that couldn’t cope with his majesty on the half-turn.

    Foden dovetailed excellently with the similarly brilliant Kobbie Mainoo and worked in many of his favourites zones amid a superb first half performance. The City superstar tested Bart Verbruggen from distance, kissed the post with a Lamine Yamal-like effort, and was denied off the line by Denzel Dumfires following som nifty footwork to create the chance.

    Foden’s been on the periphery in Germany, and although he was stifled somewhat as the game went on (before he played a role in Bukayo Saka’s disallowed goal), this was his game.

    Honourable mention

    Ollie Watkins – 8/10

    Ollie Watkins

    Scenes! / BSR Agency/GettyImages

    Watkins was on the pitch for no more than ten or so minutes, but it was his moment, his goal that sent England into Sunday’s final.

    The Dutch backline had not been tested in the second half, squeezing higher up the pitch, and Stefan de Vrij enjoyed duelling an increasingly ineffective Harry Kane.

    With his first run in behind, Watkins found himself one-on-one with the Inter defender after being fed by Palmer. The Villa striker has relished such positions for years at Villa Park, and now he’s produced for his country on the biggest stage. His strike through the legs of De Vrij and across Bart Vebruggen into the far bottom corner was as pinpoint as you could get.

    Kieran Trippier – 5/10

    Donyell Malen, Kieran Trippier

    England lacked an outley down the left / Stu Forster/GettyImages

    Trippier has been a serviceable option down the left, and he continued in the starting XI here.

    However, this was another occasion when the Newcastle United man merely looked like a square peg trying to fit a round hole.

    England’s first half performance was superb on the whole, but the missing link was a reliable outlet down the left. Trippier was by no means disastrousand supressed Denzel Dumfries, but he was occasionally late to provide wide support and his crosses rarely found their mark.

    Luke Shaw’s introduction at half-time suggests the Manchester United left-back could make his first start of the tournament in Berlin.

    Jude Bellingham – 5/10

    Jude Bellingham

    Bellingham was limited in Dortmund / Stu Forster/GettyImages

    Bellingham has come up in big moments for England this tournament – none bigger than his incredible last 16 equaliser, but dominant performances have come few and far between since.

    On Wednesday night, he watched on as Foden stole the show. There was some success between the lines, but his combination play was nowhere near as slick as his teammate’s. As the game wore on, he was used as a runner in behind, but he had no success with it.

    Bellingham did provide a couple of lovely sequences to retain possession and worked his socks off without the ball, but it was a quiet outing on the whole by his standards.

    READ MORE OF THE LATEST ENGLAND NEWS, QUOTES & MATCH PREVIEWS

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