Euro 2024 round-up: England book spot in final with last-gasp winner

ENGLAND finally came alive with their best performance at Euro 2024 thus far. Gareth Southgate and his charges have come under heavy fire for perceived poor performances, with a few big names coming under scrutiny for their apparent lack of effectiveness.

But they have proved the naysayers wrong and booked a spot in the showcase final in Berlin on Monday (3am, July 15) against a highly-fancied Spain team.

Here is a run-down of the second semifinal.

England 2 v Netherlands 1

The game got off to an explosive start with both teams committed to playing on the front foot. England pressed aggressively while the Dutch moved the ball with purpose stretching play across the width of the pitch.

It was the Oranje who drew first blood when Xavi Simons surged into the England box unleashing an unstoppable rocket that fizzed past an outstretched Jordan Pickford.

England once again found themselves behind in a knock-out tie and worked their way back into the game by pressing high up. It didn’t take long for England to find the equaliser, though it came about in somewhat fortunate circumstances.

Harry Kane had blazed a shot over the bar in the 18th minute but Denzel Dumfries was adjudged to have taken the England captain out in the follow through challenge.

The referee was asked to review the incident on the pitch side monitor and duly awarded a penalty which Kane converted.

It was a subjective call which is sure to be debated by football fans and pundits. For much of the first period, the game was being played in the Dutch half and England were probably the better side, though it remained level at the break.

The second half was a very different affair as both sides made changes that shifted the tactical dynamics of the game.

Netherlands compressed play making it much more difficult for England to break through. England who were playing with a nominal back three also took their collective foot off the pedal and did not press as aggressively.

Though both sides struck the woodwork, the game was drifting towards extra time until substitute Ollie Watkins’ late, dramatic intervention.

The Aston Villa striker struck a precise and powerful shot into the corner of the Dutch net in the 90th minute which was enough to take the Three Lions into their second successive European championship final.

Although Spain will be the favourites in the final, it would be a very foolish person who bets against an England side which has momentum and Lady Luck seemingly in their corner. – July 11, 2024


Main pic credit: AP

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