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Super substitute Watkins propels England past the Netherlands and into the Euro 2024 final.

Ollie Watkins scored a dramatic injury-time winner as England defeated the Netherlands 2-1 on Wednesday, securing their place in the Euro 2024 final against Spain in Berlin.

The evening started poorly for England when Xavi Simons gave the Netherlands an early lead in the semi-final in Dortmund. However, England equalized through a Harry Kane penalty, awarded following a controversial VAR decision by German referee Felix Zwayer. The match seemed headed for extra time until Watkins, who had come on as a substitute for Kane, received a pass from Cole Palmer, turned, and struck a low shot into the far corner in the first minute of stoppage time.

“I’m at a loss for words, honestly,” said Watkins, the Aston Villa striker. “I don’t think I’ve ever hit a ball sweeter than that, especially in such a special moment.”

Gareth Southgate’s England side has had a somewhat unconvincing campaign, but they now find themselves in their second consecutive European Championship final, hoping to win their first major trophy since 1966.

Their opponent, Spain, has been outstanding throughout the tournament, defeating France 2-1 in the semi-finals.

“We’re up against the best team in the tournament, and with one less day to prepare, it’s a massive challenge. But we’re still here, and we’re fighting,” Southgate commented.

The Netherlands, aiming to replicate their 1988 European Championship victory in Germany, lacked the star quality of past eras, such as Marco van Basten or Ruud Gullit. Instead of a potential rematch of the 2010 World Cup final against Spain, they now exit the tournament.

“I’m disappointed with the final result in a match where we started very well,” said their coach, Ronald Koeman. “We scored a great goal, and then it’s over, which is hard to accept.”

Despite not winning any of their last four matches in regulation time and being pushed to extra time by Slovakia and Switzerland, England overcame physical challenges to reach this stage. Marc Guehi returned to strengthen their defense after suspension, while Koeman opted to start Donyell Malen in attack, who plays at Borussia Dortmund’s home ground.

The Westfalenstadion holds special memories for the Dutch, where they secured a historic 2-0 victory over Brazil in 1974, with goals from Johan Neeskens and Johan Cruyff

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