July 24th, 2024

England reaches European Championship final by beating Netherlands 2-1 on Watkins late goal


By Steve Douglas, The Associated Press on July 10, 2024.

Fans of the team of the Netherlands gather for a fan walk towards the stadium ahead of a semifinal match between Netherlands and England at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

DORTMUND, Germany (AP) – England reached a second straight European Championship final by beating the Netherlands 2-1 thanks to substitute Ollie Watkins’ stoppage-time winner on Wednesday.

Watkins, who came on for captain Harry Kane in a bold call by coach Gareth Southgate, turned and smashed a fierce shot into the bottom corner in the first minute of added-on time.

England will play Lamine Yamal and Spain in Sunday’s final in Berlin. It will be the nation’s first title match on foreign soil, having won the World Cup in 1966 and lost to Italy in the Euro 2020 final – both times at Wembley Stadium.

In an open first half, Harry Kane’s 18th-minute penalty canceled out Xavi Simons’ brilliantly struck opener for the Dutch in the seventh minute.

Watkins had only made one previous appearance at Euro 2024 – as a substitute in the group game against Denmark – so it was a surprise when he was introduced by Southgate in England’s biggest match so far.

The gamble paid off.

The sea of orange in the giant South Stand at Westfalenstadion fell silent. It housed the most vocal of the Dutch supporters who dominated the city center before marching in their thousands to the stadium ahead of the game. Police reported three separate clashes between fans from both countries in the city.

It gave the occasion the feeling of a home match for the Dutch and England, which came from behind to advance in the last 16 and quarterfinals, was up against it even more after the 21-year-old Simons became the second youngest scorer for the Netherlands at a Euros.

The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder dispossessed Declan Rice about 40 meters (yards) out, drove forward and unleashed a shot into the far corner from outside the area.

Compared to the 16-year-old Yamal, Spain’s new superstar, Simons is a soccer veteran but this was another case of a young player shining on the big stage at the Euros.

Kane has had plenty of big moments at major tournaments and he had another when he slotted home a penalty after Denzel Dumfries’ outstretched leg made contact with Kane’s foot as the England striker attempted a shot.

Kane became the sixth player to be on three goals for the tournament.

An open first half, which saw Dumfries and England’s Phil Foden hit the goal frame, made way for a tight and tense second half where chances were limited.

Bukayo Saka had a goal ruled out for a narrow offside before Kane departed for Watkins in what might rank as Southgate’s best call in his eight-year England tenure.

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

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