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    Southgate revels in ´best achievement´ as England reach landmark final

    Gareth Southgate saluted England’s “best achievement” as they beat the Netherlands 2-1 to reach the Euro 2024 final – and their first in a major tournament on foreign soil.

    The Three Lions set up a final showdown with Spain, who beat France by the same scoreline in the other semi-final, after edging out the Oranje thanks to Ollie Watkins’ last-gasp winner in Dortmund.

    The Aston Villa forward climbed off the bench to replace Harry Kane, whose penalty cancelled out Xavi Simons’ early strike, and struck in the 90th minute to send England into delirium.

    Southgate’s side fell at the final hurdle at the delayed Euro 2020, as they suffered penalty shootout heartbreak against Italy at Wembley.

    But having become only the fourth nation to reach successive European Championship finals, the Three Lions now have the opportunity to go one better on Sunday and potentially end their 58-year wait for major tournament silverware.

    “This has to be the best [achievement],” Southgate told ITV Sport. “Very special night and, hopefully, very special for everyone at home. I thought our performance was really good.

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    “It was a complicated game, they kept changing, we had to respond. We caused them problems all night, and the end is so special for the squad.

    “You knew with the Netherlands, they have more quality, so they can punish you like they did, but there’s more opportunity to play.

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

    “We felt, energy wise, we were starting to lose some pressure [in the second half]. Ollie can press well and make those runs in behind. We thought it was a good moment to try him.

    “We deserved to win tonight. We were very fluid in our formation, it wasn’t just a back three, we had to adapt all the time and the players made so many good decisions.

    “This is what we came here to do, and we have been building for two years. We have got to enjoy tonight, but equally, it is such a quick turnaround and we have a day less [to prepare] than the team who have been the best at the tournament.”

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