England through to Euro 2024 final after tense win over Netherlands

 

Head Coach of England Gareth Southgate celebrates their victory and entry into the Final during the UEFA EURO 2024 semi-final match between Netherlands and England at Football Stadium Dortmund on July 10, 2024 in Dortmund, Germany.

England is through to a second consecutive European Championship final, coming from behind to beat the Netherlands 2-1 in Dortmund.


Xavi Simons's stunning opener gave the Dutch an early lead, but England hit back almost immediately through a Harry Kane penalty.


England dominated the first half, but aside from Phil Foden hitting the post and having a shot stopped on the line, it could not break through for a second goal.


The Netherlands grew in stature during the second half, testing Jordan Pickford's goal.


But second-half substitutes Cole Palmer and Ollie Watkins linked up superbly in injury time, with Watkins's low strike handing England its first major tournament victory in a semifinal on foreign soil.



England has faced a deluge of criticism throughout the Euro 2024 tournament, having bored its way through to the knockout stages with performances that have, at best, been described as disjointed.


Manager Gareth Southgate has born the brunt of that frustration, with his negative and conservative play being seen as stifling England's bevvy of attacking players.


But nobody can argue that his changes made the difference in Dortmund, as England finally solved the puzzle posed by the improved second-half Dutch defence thanks to his two changes.


It was bold to take off skipper Kane, and arguably even bolder to remove England's best first-half player in Foden with 10 minutes of normal time remaining.


Gareth Southgate screams


But when those two combined for a last-gasp winner that had Southgate and England supporters screaming in joy on the sidelines, it is hard not to feel like he was fully vindicated.


Under Southgate England has now reached consecutive European Championship finals, a World Cup semi and a quarterfinal. 


A victory in Berlin on Monday, Australian time, would go a long way to securing his status as England's greatest manager alongside 1966 World Cup winner Sir Alf Ramsay.


The rejuvenation England felt was In evidence from the first moments of the first half as the Three Lions shed all their inhibitions to play with glorious fluidity throughout the first half.


Sticking with the three at the back formation that worked, to a degree, in the shootout victory over Switzerland in the quarterfinals, England looked lively and dominated possession against a Dutch side who had no answer to England's early inventiveness.


However, it was the Netherlands who took the lead, with Simons unleashing a thunderbolt of a strike into the top corner inside the opening 10 minutes.


Xavi Simons holds his mouth


England continued to press though and were gifted a penalty just 10 minutes later when Denzel Dumfries was ruled to have kicked Kane in the penalty area.


The decision was given via VAR but seemed harsh even then, with Dumfries surely entitled to challenge for the ball, before being kicked on the underside of his boot by Kane on his follow through. 


That did not bother Kane though, who slotted his 66th goal in England colours with a sublime penalty, stroking the ball into the corner of the net.


England had plenty of chances in the first half, with Foden seeing a dinked shot cleared off the line by Dumfries — who also saw a header hit the top of the bar in a rare Dutch foray forward — and then hitting the post with a delightful curling effort, as the Dutch struggled to contain England's midfield.


However, a far more tight and tense second half saw the Netherlands finally regain control, with Wout Weghorst leading the line as England resorted to a back four.


That all changed with Southgate's late substitutions though, as England head to Berlin and a date with Spain.

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