Netherlands 1-2 England: Watkins´ dramatic winner sends Three Lions into Euro 2024 final

    Ollie Watkins was the hero as England booked their place in the Euro 2024 final with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over the Netherlands in Dortmund.

    The Aston Villa forward climbed off the bench to strike a 90th-minute winner in Dortmund, where the Three Lions set up a showdown with Spain in Sunday’s final.

    The contest appeared set to head into extra time after Harry Kane’s penalty cancelled out Xavi Simons’ impressive long-range strike.

    However, there was to be a 90th-minute twist when Watkins drilled past Bart Verbruggen to send Gareth Southgate’s side through to their second successive Euros showpiece.

    It took only seven minutes for this tie to spark into life – Simons robbed Declan Rice of possession and, from 20 yards out, unleased a fierce strike that flew beyond Jordan Pickford and into the left-hand corner.

    England had their equaliser 11 minutes later, albeit in contentious fashion. Kane lashed an effort over, but after a VAR check, Denzel Dumfries was deemed to have caught the Three Lions captain with a high boot.

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    Dumfries redeemed himself five minutes later as he cleared off the line to prevent Phil Foden from completing the turnaround.

    He almost put the Dutch ahead just before the half-hour, only for his header to cannon away off the crossbar.

    Foden went agonisingly close again soon after – his curling effort rattling the left-hand upright with Verbruggen beaten.

    The Netherlands created the first decent opportunity of the second half with Pickford beating away Virgil van Dijk’s volley from a Joey Veerman free-kick in the 64th minute.

    England thought they had taken the lead with 11 minutes remaining when Bukayo Saka turned home Kyle Walker’s low cross, but the strike was ruled out with the latter having strayed marginally offside.

    But with the tie seemingly destined for extra time, Cole Palmer slipped in his fellow substitute Watkins, who superbly found the opposite corner from a tight angle to send the Three Lions into delirium.

    More history for Southgate’s Three Lions

    England advanced to their first major competition final on foreign soil in the most dramatic manner, while becoming the first team in European Championship history to reach the final despite trailing in both their quarter-final and semi-final ties.

    Kane drew England level from the penalty spot with his record-breaking sixth goal in the Euros knockout stages.

    The England skipper also now has more knockout stage goals in major tournaments than any other European player with nine, while he became the third player to score in successive European Championship semi-finals – and first since Viktor Ponedelnik and Valentin Ivanov, who both achieved the feat for the Soviet Union in 1960 and 1964.

    Kane then made way for Watkins, who more than made his mark. His brilliant strike from a tight angle was only the second ever 90th-minute winning goal in a European Championship knockout tie, after Phillip Lahm’s effort for Germany against Turkiye in the 2008 semi-finals.

    More importantly, it takes the Three Lions within one more victory of ending 58 years of hurt.

    More semi-final heartbreak

    Once again, the semi-final proved to be the stumbling block for the Netherlands at the Euros.

    The Oranje have fond memories of the BVB Stadion. It was here that they beat Brazil 2-0 to reach the World Cup final 50 years ago.

    However, Simon’s early strike proved a false dawn for the Dutch and Koeman, who was part of the side that recorded their only previous win in a European Championship semi-final – against Germany in 1988, in the tournament they went on to win.

    Watkins’ dramatic winner condemned them to a fifth defeat in six appearances at this stage of the competition. Better luck next time?

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