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    Player ratings as Watkins puts Three Lions into final

    A stunning Ollie Watkins finish at the last sent England into the Euro 2024 final as they downed the Netherlands 2-1 in Dortmund on Wednesday.

    Watkins, who came on for Harry Kane in the second half, scored a trademark goal across the goalkeeper to send the Three Lions into their second consecutive European Championship final.

    England had fallen behind early on, but a quick response ensued and they were excellent in the first half. However, Dutch changes stifled them after the break and the contest seemed destined for extra time before Watkins struck.

    Who said Gareth Southgate couldn’t change a game of football?

    How the game unfolded

    The atmosphere between the two sets of supporters on the streets of Dortmund was cordial but raucous, and neither the Oranje or Three Lions contingent had time to settle down inside Signal Iduna Park before the deadlock was broken in Wednesday’s semi-final.

    Xavi Simons, who’s endured a fairly frustrating tournament up until this point, burst into life in the opening exchanges by pouncing on Declan Rice outside the England box, making the most of a static Kyle Walker, and thundering his first goal of Euro 2024 beyond Jordan Pickford.

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    Southgate’s England have grown used to playing from behind in Germany, however, and, as was the case against the Swiss on Saturday, they quickly responded. Although, VAR intervention following Denzel Dumfries challenge on Harry Kane didn’t seem necessary.

    Nevertheless, Kane took full advantage of the decision and crashed home a perfect penalty past Bart Verbruggen to restore parity inside 20 minutes.

    Buoyed by their swift response, the Three Lions asserted total control over their opponents for the remainder of the first half. They were dominant in the middle of the park, and for the first time all tournament, their attacking stars were relentlessly carrying and creating from between the lines with plenty of momentum.

    Phil Foden was majestic from an inside right position, while Kobbie Mainoo suffocated the Oranje with his energy and duel-winning. England were excellent, and Foden went close on multiple occasions. The Manchester City star had an effort cleared off the line by Dumfries and was then denied a Lamine Yamal-style stunner by the outside of the post.

    Such was England’s dominance that when Memphis Depay succumbed to a knock with ten minutes of the first-half remaining, Koeman opted to replace him with midfielder Joey Veerman as opposed to Wout Weghorst. He had to find ways of taming England’s creators.

    Both managers rolled the dice at half-time, with Weghorst making his entrance, and Koeman’s changes were successful in limiting England in central areas, forcing them to be more precise when accessing the likes of Foden.

    For the first time since Simons’ goal, the Netherlands found themselves on top on the hour mark and started to pose a threat from set-pieces. England’s play had grown stale, and many were pleading for another injection of pace.

    Southgate did make changes, and it was one of his two susbtitutes, Cole Palmer and Watkins, that combined in the last minute of the 90 to send England into the final on Sunday.

    Scenes, scenes, scenes.

    Xavi Simons

    Xavi Simons opened the scoring with a belting effort / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

    GK: Bart Verbruggen – 6/10 – Kane’s penalty was perfect, and Verbruggen was assured when dealing with efforts from distance. Watkins’ finish wasn’t bad, too.

    RB: Denzel Dumfries – 8/10 – A busy guy at Signal Iduna Park. He perhaps didn’t venture forward as much as he would’ve liked, but Dumfries made a key intervention to deny Foden on the line. Hit the bar with an excellent header in the first half.

    CB: Stefan de Vrij – 7/10 – May have been regarded as the Dutch defender to target, but De Vrij showed no signs of weakness until he had to run with Watkins. It was he who was closest to the Aston Villa forward before he struck.

    CB: Virgil van Dijk – 7/10 – His usual self defending the box. Left a couple of late ones in.

    LB: Nathan Ake – 8/10 – Went face-to-face with Bukayo Saka again on Wednesday – a tough assignment – but he was rarely beaten by the Arsenal man.

    CM: Jerdy Schouten – 6/10 – Was forced to play without the ball for the majority of the contest and was overrun at times. Did astutely track Bellingham when the Real Madrid star darted in behind.

    CM: Tijjani Reijnders – 5/10 – The classy Reijnders was shackled and didn’t have much of an influence when he did venture forward.

    RM: Donyell Malen – 5/10 – Offered a burst or two in behind but not much else in the opening 45 minutes.

    AM: Xavi Simons – 7/10 – Set Dortmund alight with his early opener, but his outing peaked with that moment. To be fair, that was always going to be hard to top.

    LM: Cody Gakpo – 5/10 – Was not in the game for large periods and was shackled by Kyle Walker for the most part.

    ST: Memphis Depay – 5/10 – Movement did give John Stones something to think about early on, but had a minimal impact before picking up an injury.

    Substitutes

    SUB: Joey Veerman (35′ for Depay) – 7/10

    SUB: Wout Weghorst (46′ for Malen) – 6/10

    SUB: Joshua Zirkzee (90′ for Dumfries) – N/A

    SUB: Brian Brobbey (90′ for Simons) – N/A

    Subs not used: Justin Biljow (GK), Mark Flekken, Lutsharel Geertruida, Matthijs de Ligt, Gini Wijnaldum, Jeremie Frimpong, Micky van de Ven, Daley Blind, Ian Maatsen, Steven Bergwijn, Ryan Gravenberch

    Manager

    Ronald Koeman – 7/10 – Koeman’s shown his adaptability this tournament, and after his side were firmly second best in the first half, the Dutch were far more compact after the restart before enjoying periods of control.

    Harry Kane

    Harry Kane levelled from the spot inside 20 minutes / Image Photo Agency/GettyImages

    GK: Jordan Pickford – 7/10 – Nothing he could do to deny Simons’ strike. Wasn’t particularly busy, but made a smart stop to deny Van Dijk on the hour.

    CB: Kyle Walker – 8/10 – It’s not been a great tournament for Walker, but he was much more like his usual self in the semi-final. Offered a handy outlet down the right and his recovery pace, as it so often does, saved England on occasions.

    CB: John Stones – 7/10 – Hesitant at times to drop into midfield and follow Depay, but his early withdrawal solved that issue.

    CB: Marc Guehi – 8/10 – Drafted back into the side following his suspension and didn’t put a foot wrong. Strong in the air, and produced a standout defensive sequence late on in the game.

    RM: Bukayo Saka – 7/10 – Started brightly with and without the ball, but was largely on the periphery as his teammates came to the fore.

    CM: Declan Rice – 7/10 – Criminally beaten by Simons in the lead-up to the Dutch opener. Did settle, and his dropping into the back three helped England eventually dominate in the first half.

    CM: Kobbie Mainoo – 8/10 – There are naturals in possession, and then there’s Kobbie Mainoo. So elegant with the ball, but the Manchester United midfielder did the dirty work superbly in Dortmund. Another coming-of-age display.

    LM: Kieran Trippier – 5/10 – If there was one thing England was lacking in the first half, it was an outlet down the left. Withdrawn at half-time.

    AM: Phil Foden – 8/10 – Freed from the shackles of the left flank, Foden produced his best performance of Euro 2024 by a distance. Tamed after half-time, though.

    AM: Jude Bellingham – 5/10 – Bellingham’s turn to enjoy a quiet night while drifting out to the left.

    ST: Harry Kane – 6/10 – Pinpoint from the spot, and started the game well. Then became static and far easier to defend. Made way for the matchwinner.

    Substitutes

    SUB: Luke Shaw (46′ for Trippier) – 6/10

    SUB: Ollie Watkins (80′ for Kane) – 8/10

    SUB: Cole Palmer (80′ for Foden) – 8/10

    SUB: Ezri Konsa (90′ for Saka) – N/A

    SUB: Conor Gallagher (90′ for Mainoo) – N/A

    Subs not used: Aaron Ramsdale (GK), Dean Henderson (GK), Lewis Dunk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ivan Toney, Anthony Gordon, Jarrod Bowen, Eberechi Eze, Joe Gomez, Adam Wharton

    Manager

    Gareth Southgate – 9/10 – Southgate changing the game in a semi-final. God, it might be coming home.

    Player of the match: Phil Foden (England)

    READ THE LATEST EURO 2024 NEWS, PREVIEWS & PLAYER RATINGS

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