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    Thursday, July 11, 2024

    England Secures Spot in Euro 2024 Finals with Watkins’ Decisive Goal


    Ollie Watkins scored a remarkable last-minute goal, propelling England to a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands on Wednesday. This triumph secures England’s place in the Euro 2024 final, where they will face Spain in Berlin.

    During the semi-final match in Dortmund, England faced an unfavorable start when Xavi Simons from the Netherlands secured an early lead for their team, resulting in a challenging beginning to the evening.

    Nevertheless, England soon achieved parity via a Harry Kane penalty ensuing a contentious VAR decision by German referee Felix Zwayer. Subsequently, the match appeared destined to progress towards extra time until Watkins intervened decisively.

    In the first minute of stoppage time, Watkins, who had just replaced Harry Kane, received a pass from fellow substitute Cole Palmer while his back was to the goal. He then turned and fired a low shot into the far corner, leaving the Netherlands in a state of shock.

    Despite Gareth Southgate’s England team’s lackluster performance, they have advanced to their second consecutive European Championship final, harboring aspirations of securing their first significant trophy since 1966.

    In order to achieve their goal, they will undoubtedly need to surpass their previous performances in Germany, as they are set to face the formidable Spanish team.

    Additionally, Spain will have had the advantage of an extra 24 hours to prepare for the final match, having emerged victorious against France with a score of 2-1 on Tuesday.

    The Netherlands had been hoping to replicate their triumph at the last Euros held in Germany, in 1988. However, the current team lacks players with the exceptional talent of Marco van Basten or Ruud Gullit.

    A victory for the Netherlands would have resulted in the same final matchup as the 2010 World Cup. Unfortunately, they have been eliminated from the tournament.

    England advanced to this stage despite not securing a victory in regulation time in any of their last four matches. They were taken to extra time by both Slovakia and Switzerland.

    It is possible that the Dutch team may have gained a physical advantage after successfully overcoming their third-place finish in the group stage by defeating Romania and subsequently Turkey.

    In response, England welcomed back Marc Guehi to the defensive line following his suspension, while Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman made the decision to start Donyell Malen in the attacking position at the stadium where he plays club football for Borussia Dortmund.

    The Westfalenstadion holds a significant place in Dutch football history, serving as the venue for their remarkable 2-0 victory over Brazil in the 1974 World Cup, propelling them to the tournament’s final.

    Contentious penalty

    The team swiftly advanced and scored a remarkable goal within the first seven minutes of the match, thanks to Simons’ impressive performance. Simons skillfully dispossessed Declan Rice approximately 35 meters from the goal and proceeded to unleash a powerful shot that soared past Jordan Pickford.

    The Dutch players celebrated enthusiastically with their supporters behind the goal, while England found themselves trailing for the third consecutive game.

    However, reminiscent of their response against Switzerland in the quarter-finals, England demonstrated remarkable resilience and reacted promptly.

    Kane compelled a save from Mr. Bart Verbruggen and shortly thereafter propelled a volley over the bar, and was apprehended by Mr. Denzel Dumfries on the follow-through.

    It appeared entirely innocuous, but Mr. Zwayer was summoned across to reevaluate the images and granted a penalty.

    Kane, whose missed spot-kick against France cost England dearly in the 2022 World Cup, made no error, placing the ball low into the bottom-left corner.

     

    It settled into an open and entertaining game, with Dumfries redeeming himself by clearing off the line from Phil Foden.

    Dumfries crashed a header off the bar from a Simons corner, but Foden responded by curling a superb shot from range off the top of the post.

    England’s midfielders were being given too much time on the ball, and Koeman used an injury to Memphis Depay to reinforce the centre, replacing the forward with Joey Veerman.

    Another change followed at the interval, with Wout Weghorst –- super-sub in previous rounds –- replacing Malen.

    Yet the game became more cagey as the minutes went on and the fear of making a mistake grew.

    Pickford denied Virgil van Dijk on 65 minutes and the Netherlands began to take control as England’s leading players started to tire.

    During the 79th minute of the match, England managed to place the ball in the net when Bukayo Saka successfully converted a cutback pass from Kyle Walker. However, the celebration was short-lived as it was determined that Walker was in an offside position, resulting in the goal being disallowed.

    Southgate subsequently made the decision to substitute Kane and Foden, introducing Watkins and Palmer into the match, which had a significant impact on the outcome.

    AFP

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