England 2-1 Netherlands (Jul 10, 2024) Game Analysis

Substitute Ollie Watkins scored a stoppage-time winner to send England through to their second successive European Championship final on Wednesday as they finally turned on the style to beat Netherlands 2-1 on a memorable night in Dortmund, Germany.

With the match looking set for extra time, Watkins received a pass from fellow sub Cole Palmer and fired a sweet strike into the far corner.

“Unbelievable. I’ve been waiting for that moment for weeks, for weeks,” Aston Villa forward Watkins said after the game. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to where I am today and grateful that I got the opportunity — and I’ve grabbed it with both hands, and I’m delighted.

“I swear on my life, I said to Cole Palmer: we’re coming on today and you’re going to set me up. And that’s why I was so happy with Coley.”

Xavi Simons had brilliantly put the Dutch ahead after seven minutes, with England equalising 11 minutes later with a Harry Kane penalty.

Chances came and went in an all-action first half. Things settled in the second before the late drama that sends England to play Spain in Berlin on Sunday.

“History made — amazing achievement,” said Kane as England reached their first major final on foreign soil. “To do what we’ve done away from home is really special.

“We talk about being ready — you might get five minutes, one minute, but you can make a difference, you can win a tournament — and Ollie’s been waiting, he’s been patient, and what he did out there was outstanding.”

It was a frenetic start as Simons robbed Declan Rice and slammed a screamer into top corner, and though the “Orange Wall” behind the goal erupted, it proved something of a false dawn.

England levelled when Kane was caught by the studs of Denzel Dumfries as he shot, earning a VAR-reviewed penalty that the England striker drilled into the bottom corner.

England were desperately close to a second score five minutes later when Phil Foden brilliantly skipped through a series of tackles almost to the line, and when he finally dug out a shot, Dumfries was on hand to clear it off the line.

Ollie Watkins’ 91st-minute goal secured England’s 2-1 victory over Netherlands that ensures Gareth Southgate’s team will face Spain in Sunday’s European Championship final.

Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

The Dutch centre-back was in the spotlight again soon after when he rose magnificently for a corner but thumped his header against the bar, only for England to respond with a fantastic curling shot by Foden that hit the post with the keeper beaten.

England’s fans, who had been bored into silence in their previous three games, could barely believe what they were seeing and won the singing battle despite being massively outnumbered.

Foden, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka were playing with the swagger that they showed all season for their clubs, while the incredible 19-year-old Kobbie Mainoo was running midfield like a veteran.

It was a scarcely believable transformation as the team who barely mustered a shot against Slovenia, Slovakia and Switzerland sent in crosses high and low, attempted probing through balls and even had a couple of backheels in the box while forcing Bart Verbruggen into three sprawling saves.

Netherlands threw on striker Wout Weghorst for the second half, while England brought on Luke Shaw, but England seemed to lose their energy, playing safely.

For fans who saw the same pattern in the 2018 World Cup semifinal against Croatia and Euro 2020 final against Italy, where England were forced back after early dominance, it was a worry. But this time, coach Gareth Southgate took dramatic action by removing Foden and Kane after 80 minutes and bringing on Watkins and Palmer.

Saka did turn in a low Kyle Walker cross in a rare attack, but it was ruled out for offside. However, Palmer, who has looked dangerous every time he has come on in the tournament, threaded a pass into the path of Watkins to cue bedlam.

It was heartbreak for the Dutch, who have now lost four semifinals since winning the title in 1988.

“My feeling was the last 20 to 25 minutes our team was a little more fresh than England, but they scored a great goal and that’s football sometimes,” Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman said.

“I won’t say it was unlucky, because it was a great goal. And we can be really proud of our national team; we had a great tournament.”

Spain are listed as favorites in the final, according to ESPN BET, with La Roja at -155 and England at +120 to win the tournament.