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Watkins fires England past Netherlands into Euro 2024 clash with Spain

England substitute Ollie Watkins scored a stunning last-minute goal in Dortmund on Wednesday night to secure England a place in the final of Euro 2024. He played Spain in Berlin on Sunday night.

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2 minutes

The Aston Villa forward came on in the 81st minute to battle with Cole Palmer in place of captain Harry Kane and Phil Foden as England manager Gareth Southgate attempted to revive a forward line that had lost its energy and enthusiasm.

On arrival it looked like the Netherlands had the best chance of scoring the winning goal before extra time.

Wout Weghorst, who had replaced Donyell Malen at the start of the second half, was a difficult figure in the English defence with his muscle power – and his elbow, as John Stones’ face could testify.

The Dutch, chasing their first title since winning the European crown in 1988, took the lead in the sixth minute when Xavi Simons cut off Declan Rice from the ball 35 yards out from the England goal. The midfielder stepped up and fired a shot that flew past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

But 10 minutes later England were level again.

Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries was accused of bringing down Kane in the penalty area.

The Bayern Munich striker swept himself off the field after the collision and fired the penalty into the net to the right of Dutch goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen.

Harry Kane's 66th goal for England brought his team a draw against the Netherlands in the semi-final of Euro 2024 in Dortmund.
Harry Kane’s 66th goal for England brought his team a draw against the Netherlands in the semi-final of Euro 2024 in Dortmund. AP – Hassan Ammar

With parity restored, England looked set to press ahead. They kept possession and, unlike their previous outings at the 2024 tournament, were sharp. Foden curled a shot that struck the outside of Verbruggen’s right post. Verbruggen had to be alert to quickly fire on another Foden effort.

In one of the rare excursions on English soil, Dumfries headed a corner past Pickford’s crossbar, with the ball going out for a goal kick.

Change

After the break, the Netherlands slowly began to exert some authority on the match. But it was England who scored. But Bukayo Saka’s goal was disallowed for offside.

That miss marked the end of Kane and Foden’s involvement. Enter Watkins and Palmer for the duo.

It could have been the dream substitution if Palmer had managed to limit his strike two minutes from time. The miss was merely delayed ecstasy.

Palmer made up for his lack of precision a few minutes later by firing a simple ball into Watkins’ penalty area.

Although Stefan De Vrij was close, Watkins quickly touched the ball with his left hand, turned and fired the ball low through the defender’s legs, past Verbruggen and into the far corner.

The English bench filled the pitch to watch the striker, while the Dutch stood by in despair.

“A fantastic achievement, I’m so proud of every player and the whole staff,” Kane told reporters after the match.

“It was a very difficult tournament. There is one more match to go and we have to show up on Sunday.

“We have one more game to make history, 90 minutes, penalties, whatever it takes.”

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