England advances to Euro 2024 finals on thrilling injury-time goal

DORTMUND, Germany — Super sub Ollie Watkins sent England into the final of Euro 2024 with a sensational injury-time winner to defeat the Netherlands 2-1 on Wednesday.

Watkins, who had earlier come on for captain Harry Kane and had been used sparingly in the tournament, collected a pass from fellow substitute Cole Palmer and smacked it into the Dutch net.

Ollie Watkins scores in 90′ to give England a 2-1 lead over the Netherlands

Ollie Watkins scores in 90' to give England a 2-1 lead over the Netherlands

As a result, England will now face Spain for the title on Sunday, seeking to atone for its defeat on penalties to Italy three years ago.

Earlier, the Netherlands made its best start of the tournament and surged into an early lead on the back of a blistering strike from Xavi Simons.

Simons took the ball from Declan Rice after seven minutes and blasted it just beyond Jordan Pickford’s reach and into the top corner.

England had gone behind in each of its previous knockout round games and managed to find a way back — and it did so again.

There was immediately more urgency, but when Kane’s shot flew over the bar, it appeared a solid chance had gone begging. However, a VAR review found Kane had been recklessly challenged by Denzel Dumfries, and the England captain duly deposited the equalizing spot-kick into Bart Verbruggen’s bottom corner.

Harry Kane’s penalty kick finds the net as England and the Netherlands are tied at 1-1

Harry Kane's penalty kick finds the net as England and the Netherlands are tied at 1-1

Gareth Southgate’s men were playing their best soccer of the tournament, with far more direction and energy. Phil Foden was lively and twice went close, first with a tap through Verbruggen’s legs that was cleared off the line by Dumfries, then a signature left-foot curler from outside the area that clipped the outside of the post.

The Dutch weren’t seeing much of the ball and had Memphis Depay removed through injured, but managed to hit the woodwork themselves, Dumfries — seemingly involved in everything — nodding against the post from a corner.

Both Southgate and Dutch coach Ronald Koeman made changes at the interval. Wout Weghorst, an extremely popular figure among his team’s fans and famously the scorer of two goals against Argentina at the World Cup, came on for Donyell Malen. For England, Luke Shaw replaced Kieran Trippier, presumably due to doubts over how many minutes Shaw could last after returning from injury.

The second half was less fluid and England in particular seemed to revert to the kind of stagnation that was seen so often earlier in the tournament. Opportunities were few and far between, but Pickford had to be alert to push the ball away after Virgil Van Dijk put it on target from a set piece.

In the end, though, it needed just one magical touch. The moment belonged to Watkins, the pass from Palmer was as perfect as the strike — and England, despite so many close shaves, marches on.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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