Ollie Watkins nets 90th-minute winner to fire England into Euro 2024 final

Ollie Watkins struck at the death to send England to their second successive European Championship final as Gareth Southgate’s side dug deep to see off the Netherlands.

The eyes of the nation were fixed on Dortmund on Wednesday evening as the Euro 2020 runners-up looked to seal a shot at history in Sunday’s Berlin showpiece against favourites Spain.

Harry Kane’s spot-kick cancelled out a superb Xavi Simons opener before Watkins stepped off the bench and wrote his name into the history books by sealing a 2-1 triumph in the 90th minute.

No English men’s team has made it to a major final on foreign soil before and now they have the chance to become European champions for the first time this weekend.

Southgate’s side played their best football of the tournament during a breathless first half in which Kane scored a contentious penalty after Simons struck an early blow.

England lost control but the bold decision to replace Phil Foden and Kane with Cole Palmer and Watkins paid off magnificently, with the former feeding the latter to turn and strike the momentous winner.

Southgate only made change from the Swiss clash and saw an encouraging start undone before the mist from the pre-match pyrotechnics had fully lifted.

Declan Rice was uncharacteristically dispossessed in his own half and could only watch Simons continue to slam beyond Jordan Pickford from 20 yards in front of a rocking orange wall.

It was a seventh-minute gut punch that England reacted well to, with Bart Verbruggen having to get down well to stop a long-range Kane laser skipping past him.

The skipper tried his luck again after Bukayo Saka was blocked out and writhed in agony on the deck after striking over, clutching his right foot.

As Kane held his fluorescent boot VAR Bastian Dankert advised Felix Zwayer to review the pitchside monitor and the much-discussed referee controversially pointed to the spot.

Denzel Dumfries was booked for his what was adjudged to have been a reckless challenge on Kane, who ignored the noise to fire past the goalkeeper’s reach into the bottom left corner.

The 18th-minute equaliser sparked England’s best period of the tournament to date, with Dumfries having to clear off the line after Foden struggled to get the ball out of his feet before slipping through Verbruggen’s legs.

The Dutch right-back sent a header onto the crossbar at the other end as he battled for the main billing with Foden, who soon clipped the outside of the far post with a left-footed curler from 25 yards.

The Manchester City star then saw a low effort saved after the impressive Kobbie Mainoo flicked it to him towards the end of a bright first half that Memphis Depay did not finish through injury.

Luke Shaw replaced Kieran Trippier at the break, when Ronald Koeman turned to towering striker Wout Weghorst in place of Donyell Malen as he sought to change the dynamics.

The second period began with long spells of England possession without purpose, with the Dutch failing to click when they tried to threaten.

As Southgate’s side faded, the orange hordes found their voice and Pickford prevented them from celebrating in the 65th minute by showing quick reactions when Virgil van Dijk met a fine free-kick.

Kyle Walker made a timely challenge on Gakpo, with Simons then striking an effort into the floor and the goalkeeper’s grasp.

England did not so much as muster a second-half shot in response but thought they had scored in the 79th minute.

Walker ran behind and Saka fired home his cutback, only for the flag to be raised for offside – a decision quickly ratified by those in the VAR booth.

Foden and Kane were replaced by Palmer and Watkins after that disallowed goal – an eye-catching double change that proved a masterstroke.

As fans and players braced themselves for another extra-time period, Palmer sent a low ball through for Watkins.

The angle looked too tight but the confident striker turned before Stefan De Vrij could react, lashing a low effort past Verbruggen in front of the stunned Dutch fanbase.

Koeman’s men could not conjure up a leveller and the full-time whistle sparked bedlam as England progressed to Berlin. 

Published: by Radio NewsHub