Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Euro 2024 Data Dive: England go back-to-back, Kane makes history and Watkins wins it late

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 10 Jul 2024

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England are into a second consecutive Euros final after another comeback win.

The Netherlands may have drawn first blood in Dortmund through Xavi Simons, but the Three Lions produced their best performance of the tournament so far to turn that around.

Harry Kane drew them level in the first half from the penalty spot, but it was Ollie Watkins who proved the hero, scoring in the 90th minute to send the England fans into raptures.

The Oranje could not have hoped for a better start to their 100th major tournament match as Simons scored the earliest semi-final goal at the Euros (seven minutes) since Alan Shearer against Germany in 1996 (third minute).

They could not hold onto their lead for long though, as Denzel Dumfries gave away a spot-kick, and Kane made no mistake from 12 yards.

The England captain is now the outright leading goalscorer in the knockout stages of the European Championships, with that his sixth such goal.

In fact, he also now has more knockout stage goals in major tournaments than any other European player (nine), overtaking Gerd Muller, Miroslav Klose, Antoine Griezmann, and Kylian Mbappe (all eight).

Gareth Southgate’s side arguably should have led by half-time, but Phil Foden’s wonderful curler struck the post – the fourth time England have hit the woodwork at Euro 2024, more than any other team.

As the game lost its momentum in the second half, the England manager got his changes just right.

Kane was taken off for just the second time in the knockout stages of a major tournament before 90 minutes – and the first time with his side not in front.

However, it proved an inspired choice as his replacement, Watkins, scored only the second-ever 90th-minute winning goal in a Euros knockout tie, after Germany v Turkiye in the 2008 semi-final.

Timed at 89:59, it was the latest winning goal scored in either a World Cup or European Championships semi-final (excluding extra time). It was also England’s only shot on target in the second half.

England are the first side to reach the final despite trailing in both the quarter-final (where they beat Switzerland on penalties after a 1-1 draw) and semi-final en route.

It will be their second consecutive Euros final under Southgate (also Euro 2020) having only reached one of their previous 23 major tournament appearances prior to his tenure – during their World Cup win in 1966.

Unfortunately for the Netherlands, they tumbled at the last hurdle before the showpiece match – it is the seventh time they have been eliminated at the semi-final stage, the second-most of any European nation after Germany (eight).

Spain await in Berlin. It means England will be the first team in Euros/World Cup history to face five different countries all beginning with the same letter in a single tournament (Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Spain). How’s that to round things off?

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