11 July 2024

Euro 2024 day 28: England reach second successive European Championship final

11 July 2024

England are celebrating reaching a second successive European Championship final after Ollie Watkins scored a dramatic last-gasp winner against the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the latest from the tournament.

Sub pays off

England manager Gareth Southgate has been criticised throughout the tournament for his use – or lack of – substitutions, but he certainly got it right on an eventful night in Dortmund.

There were nine minutes of a tense semi-final remaining when Southgate made the bold decision to replace captain Harry Kane with Watkins.

The change paid off in remarkable fashion as Watkins combined with another substitute in Cole Palmer to snatch a 2-1 victory in the last minute and book a final date with Spain.

The game had been locked at 1-1 since the 18th minute when Kane cancelled out a Xavi Simon’s screamer with a controversial penalty.

Watkins said afterwards he had visualised his winner before coming on.

The England hero told ITV: “I swear on my life, on my kids’ lives, I said to Cole Palmer, ‘We’re coming on and you’re going to set me up’ and that’s why I was so happy with Coley.

“I knew as soon as he got the ball he was going to play me in.”

Southgate feels victory is best yet

The normally calm Southgate struggled to contain himself immediately after the final whistle, celebrating his side’s triumph with vigour.

It has been a difficult few weeks for the England boss, who had beer cups thrown at him earlier in the tournament as his side struggled to impress.

Whatever decision he takes over his future after the tournament, he can surely be proud of a record that now features two Euros finals and a World Cup last four spot.

He felt the latest achievement was the best of the lot.

“I think it has to be the best, it’s another landmark,” he said. “It’s an amazing feeling. I’m so pleased how we played.

“We used the ball well all night and caused them a lot of problems.”

England ride luck again

Amid all the jubilation, there was also some acknowledgement that England, after their late equaliser against Slovakia and penalty shoot-out win against Switzerland, had enjoyed more good fortune.

Their penalty, awarded for a foul on Kane by Denzel Dumfries after a VAR review, was widely considered to fall into the ‘soft’ category.

“I think it was an absolutely disgraceful decision,” said pundit Gary Neville. “It’s nowhere near a penalty and I don’t think there were many England players claiming for it either.”

Yamal wants sweet 17

Spain’s teenage sensation Lamine Yamal is hoping to make his 17th birthday weekend one to remember by leading his side to glory on Sunday.

The Barcelona starlet became the youngest goalscorer in Euros history at 16 years and 362 days with his stunning equaliser in Spain’s 2-1 defeat of France in Tuesday’s semi-final.

“I came here to win all the matches so that I could celebrate my birthday (on Saturday) here in Germany with all of my team-mates,” Yamal told UEFA.

“I’m thrilled that we are in the final but we still haven’t done the most important thing, which is win this.”

Spain wait on Morata

There have been no updates on the fitness of Alvaro Morata since the Spain captain was injured in a freak incident whilst celebrating Tuesday’s victory.

Morata, who had been substituted in the 76th minute, had rejoined his victorious team-mates after the final whistle when he was struck by a security guard who slipped in attempting to intercept a pitch invader.

He appeared in pain after the collision and limped away.

Manager Luis De la Fuente played down the seriousness of the matter, saying “we don’t think it’s anything” but the player was due to be assessed on Wednesday.

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What’s next?

Sunday – Final: Spain v England, 8pm, BBC & ITV

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