Football Features

Ollie Watkins comes off bench to send England to Euro 2024 final in 2-1 win over Netherlands

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:18, 10 July 2024

England booked their spot in a second consecutive European Championship final as they came from behind to beat Netherlands 2-1 in the Euro 2024 semi-final.

Xavi Simons shocked England with the earliest European Championship semi-final goal since Alan Shearer netted three minutes into England’s game against Germany at Euro 1996. But the lead lasted just over 10 minutes as England were awarded a soft penalty, which Harry Kane converted.

And just when an England game looked to be going extra-time again, Ollie Watkins came off the bench to score the winning goal.

Here’s how the players rated at the Westfalenstadion:


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Netherlands

Bart Verbruggen – 6 – Beaten by the placement of Kane’s penalty, and you can’t hold that against him. Did get a slight but vital touch on Foden’s shot that was cleared off the line, taking some of the power off it. Couldn’t get anything on Watkins’ winner, though.

Denzel Dumfries – 7 – Was extremely unlucky to have a penalty given against him for a perceived foul on Kane, with the England striker kicking his foot after getting a shot away. Former England defender Gary Neville called it “a disgrace” on ITV’s coverage at half-time. Made up for it anyway with a wonderful stop on the goalline to deny Foden before hitting the crossbar with a header from a corner.

Stefan de Vrij – 7 – Dealt well with Bellingham and Kane, and looked to have closed Watkins’ options down, though the winning goal shouldn’t be his fault.

Virgil van Dijk – 7 – Tested Pickford with second-half shot but was relatively untested defensively, helping to keep Bellingham and Kane quiet.

Nathan Ake – 8 – Looked to be against it taking on Saka and stuck very close to the Arsenal man. It was a battle he largely thrived in, limiting Saka.

Jerdy Schouten – 6 – Was relatively non-existent in the first half and did misplace a couple of passes. Upped his game in the second half and it was no coincidence that Netherlands grew as a result.

Tijjani Reijnders – 4 – While Schouten grew in the second half, this proved to be a stage too big for Reijnders.

Donyell Malen – 6 – Looked to get the better of Trippier in the opening moments, capitalising on the right-back being out of position and lacking pace. Moved centrally at times and then stayed in the middle after Depay’s injury until half time, when he was taken off.

Xavi Simons – 7 – Fans had been waiting for his first Euro 2024 goal and he treated then in emphatic fashion. Robbed Rice of the ball inside the England half and fired a rocket into the top corner past Pickford. He’s the youngest ever player to score in a European Championship knockout game for Netherlands.

Cody Gakpo – 5 – Had just eight touches in the first half, and ended the game with 22. You just feel Netherlands might have been better had they got their danger man more involved.

Memphis Depay – 5 – Wasn’t really involved in the game for Netherlands before having to come off just after the half-hour mark due to injury.

Substitutes:

Joey Veerman (for Depay 35) – 5 – Came on to add some midfield stability to Netherlands but it didn’t really come from him. It was a strange move.

Wout Weghorst (for Malen 45) – 6 – Immediately fouled Stones after coming on at half time and put himself about, providing a different threat for England’s defence to deal with.

Brian Brobbey (for Simons 90) – N/A – A late sub.

Joshua Zirkzee (for Dumfries 90) – N/A – A late sub.


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England

Jordan Pickford – 6 – Well-beaten by Simons’ strike in the first half but produced a wonderful save to deny Van Dijk in the second. Didn’t have too much else to do.

Kyle Walker – 5 – This was another game for Walker to struggle in. He tries to play his game as a man 10 years his junior, but no longer has the capacity to back it up. Didn’t close down Simons for the opening goal and was caught out a couple of times. He did combine well with Guehi to stop Malen inside the box, however.

John Stones – 7 – He looked comfortable defensively at the heart of the back three, well-matched for Weghorst in that particular battle after half time.

Marc Guehi – 7 – Straight back into the starting XI after suspension, Guehi may shoulder a minor part of the blame for Simons goal as his header to Rice wasn’t the best. But he did combine with Walker to tackle Malen when he looked to be getting a shot away. Pushed out to left-back when England’s system changed in the second half but was still the man in the second to tackle Weghorst late on.

Bukayo Saka – 6 – Had a good early battle against Ake with his tricky dribbling, often from deeper positions starting at wing-back. But Ake was well-matched for him, eventually coming out on top.

Kobbie Mainoo – 8 – Another great performance from the youngster, who is the youngest ever Englishman to play in the semi-finals of a major tournament. He got forward well on the ball and did his bit defensively, including a great interception on the edge of his own box in the first half. England’s best player over the 90 minutes.

Declan Rice – 5 – He was poor on the ball in the first half, dispossessed far too easily for Simons’ goal. And while his passing did improve, defensively he was far too easy for Netherlands to beat or bypass.

Kieran Trippier – 4 – He was getting done for pace on his flank and counted against England in attack, playing on his wrong foot — though you can only blame Southgate for that. Taken off at half time.

Phil Foden – 7 – This was more like the Foden we expected to see at Euro 2024. He had England’s best chances in the first half aside from Kane’s penalty, including a shot blocked on the line that he managed to get away when the opportunity looked like it had gone. Hit the outside of the post with a curling effort too. He was less impactful in the second half as England’s system changed.

Jude Bellingham – 5 – Popped up in spaces on the edge of Netherlands’ box but he was overshadowed by his fellow No.10. Beaten twice in the air from set pieces by Dumfries in moments that could have been dangerous.

Harry Kane – 6 – Tested Verbruggen from outside the area with a decent low shot and then sent an effort over the bar from inside the box. However, he was deemed to have been fouled by VAR and scored his penalty. Kane has now scored more knockout stage goals than any other player in European Championship history, with six in total. He’s also just the third player to have scored in back-to-back European Championship semi-finals after Viktor Ponedelnik and Valentin Ivanov, both for USSR in 1960/1964. But that was about all he did in another hampering performance.

Substitutes:

Luke Shaw (for Trippier 45) – 7 – Gave England a lot more width going forward, actually playing more as a winger, which was crucial in moments.

Cole Palmer (for Foden 80) – 7 – Sent a shot high and wide that looked to be England’s chance but then set up Watkins with a beautiful ball inside the defence.

Ollie Watkins (for Kane 81) – 7 – Took his moment off the bench with a wonderful touch, turn and shot to send England through to the Euro 2024 final. It was the latest winning goal scored in the semi-final in a major international tournament, excluding extra-time.

“I swear on my life that I said to Cole Palmer that he’s going to set me up today and I’m going to score,” he told ITV after the game.

Ezri Konsa (for Saka 90) – N/A – A late sub.

Conor Gallagher (for Mainoo 90) – N/A – A late sub.

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