Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman says VAR ‘destroying’ game

    Ronald Koeman said VAR was “destroying” football after England were handed a route back into their 2-1 Euro 2024 semifinal win against the Netherlands with a controversial first-half penalty.

    England will play Spain in Sunday’s final in Berlin after Harry Kane‘s penalty and a 91st-minute winner from Ollie Watkins secured victory for Gareth Southgate’s side after Xavi Simons had given the Dutch a seventh-minute lead in Dortmund.

    The game turned on the awarding of a penalty in the 18th minute, though, when the VAR cited a challenge by Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries on Kane. Referee Felix Zwayer reviewed the incident and awarded a spot kick.

    “This is not a penalty,” Netherlands coach Koeman said. “His only intention was to block a shot. Harry Kane then shoots and their feet collide.

    “Football is getting destroyed by these type of decisions by VAR. This penalty would not have been given in England.

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    “What should you do as a defender? I thought the referee whistled for a lot of silly things, but that’s not why we lose.”

    The Dutch reached the semifinals after beating Romania and Turkey in the knockout stages following a third-place group stage finish. But having made it to the last four despite their poor group campaign, Koeman said there was enough evidence to be confident about the future.

    “There is a lot of future in this team,” he said. “In general, I am very proud. I like how they gave something in every game. We started well, but England got on top in midfield and we had to change things. I thought we then were the better team, but they scored a killer goal in the 91st minute and there is no way to respond to that.”

    England go into Sunday’s final as underdogs against Spain, but former Barcelona coach Koeman believes Southgate’s team have the players to win.

    “England showed good football today,” he said. “Spain play more offensively and are a little better defensively, but England is in the final so they can win the Euros. Players like Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham are world class and they can put you in trouble.”

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