Netherlands 1-2 England: Watkins Sends Three Lions to Euro 2024 Final

Ollie Watkins holding the Player of the Match trophy after England's Euro 2024 semi-final victory against the Netherlands.

In a dramatic Euro 2024 semi-final clash at Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, England triumphed over the Netherlands with a last-gasp goal from substitute Ollie Watkins, securing a 2-1 victory and setting up a final showdown against Spain in Berlin.

Match Overview

The semi-final began with explosive action as Xavi Simons’Simons’ thunderous strike gave the Netherlands an early lead, catching England off-guard within the first seven minutes. However, England, displaying resilience and tactical discipline, equalized through a contentious penalty converted by captain Harry Kane just before halftime.

First Half Highlights

England dominated the opening 45 minutes, with Phil Foden orchestrating play from midfield. Foden came close to scoring twice, first hitting the post with a long-range effort and then forcing a superb save from Dutch goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen. The Netherlands had their moments, too, most notably when Denzel Dumfries’Dumfries’ powerful header struck the crossbar.

Second Half Drama

The Netherlands gained momentum in the second half, putting England under sustained pressure. England’s England’s goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, made crucial saves, denying Virgil van Dijk and other Dutch attempts. The tension was palpable as the game seemed destined for extra time.

Gareth Southgate’s tactical acumen shone through with his late substitutions. The introduction of Ollie Watkins with nine minutes remaining added a fresh dynamic to England’s attack. In the final minute, Watkins turned brilliantly to strike across Verbruggen, clinching the match for England and sending the English fans into raptures.

Key Performances

Phil Foden: The Manchester City midfielder was constantly threatened, creating opportunities and maintaining relentless pressure on the Dutch defense.
Jordan Pickford: The Everton shot-stopper’s key saves, especially in the second half, were instrumental in keeping England in the game.
Ollie Watkins: The Aston Villa striker immediately impacted off the bench, scoring the decisive goal that sealed England’s victory.

Gareth Southgate’s strategic decisions played a pivotal role in England’s victory. His choice to bring on Watkins proved to be a game-changer, underlining his ability to make crucial calls under pressure. Southgate, often scrutinized for his methods, now has a chance to lead England to glory and silence his critics.

Historical Significance

This victory marks a historic moment for England, who will compete in their first major tournament final on foreign soil since the 1966 World Cup. The Three Lions also have the opportunity to avenge their Euro 2020 final loss to Italy and end their 58-year wait for a major trophy.

England will face Spain in the Euro 2024 final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. Spain, regarded as the tournament favorite, will pose a formidable challenge. However, England’s journey through adversity and newfound belief provide hope and optimism for the final.

The final promises to be a thrilling encounter as England aims to capture the silverware that has eluded them for decades. Southgate’s men must draw on their resilience and tactical discipline to overcome Spain and make history.