Southgate: Another final is my best achievement

Gareth Southgate has hailed England’s victory over Netherlands to reach the Euro 2024 final as his “best achievement” but Roy Keane wants to see him “finish the job”.

Ollie Watkins’ late stunner fired England to a 2-1 win over the Dutch, sending the Three Lions into the final against Spain in Berlin.

England have now reached the final of back-to-back European Championships, with Sunday’s showpiece the first time the men’s team have progressed to a major tournament final on foreign soil.

Southgate, speaking to ITV Sport, said: “This has to be the best [achievement]. It’s another landmark, but the way we played, we played so well throughout the game. It was a complicated game, they kept changing, we had to respond. We caused them problems all night and the end is so special for the squad.

Euro 2024 final - Spain vs England
Euro 2024 final – Spain vs England

“The most important thing is that the whole squad are ready to come into the game. We spend a lot of time with those guys [the substitutes], and I’m so chuffed for Ollie.

“We felt, energy wise, we were starting to lose some pressure [in the second half]. Ollie can press well and make those runs in behind. We thought it was a good moment to try him.

“We deserved to win. We were very fluid in our formation, it wasn’t just a back three, we had to adapt all the time and the players made so many good decisions.”

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England fans across the country went wild as Gareth Southgate’s team booked their place in the European Championship final

Keane: Southgate has to go and finish it now

England now have the chance to end 58 years without a major trophy on Sunday.

Sky Sports’ Roy Keane, speaking about Southgate on ITV Sport, said: “He’s done a brilliant job since day one. He’s created an environment for players to go out and express themselves, there’s been a bit of luck but we all need that.

“He’s made some big decisions before this tournament, with Grealish and Rashford [being left out]… but he’s got to go and finish it now.

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Ollie Watkins insisted his friends and family told him beforehand he was going to score and make a difference for England against Netherlands

“His stats are fantastic and if he can get the trophy at the end, it’ll be amazing for him.

“I’d have Spain as favourites, but sometimes, things are written in the stars for this England team.

“They should have been out of it a week or so ago, they’ve now got momentum.

“It’s good to see players coming off the bench with a proper mindset. They want to come into the game and have an impact.

“They’re coming on and getting late goals, it’ll be a brilliant game against Spain.

“The impact of players off the bench has been huge for a lot of teams in this tournament.”

Foden: Best I’ve played for England

England's Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Phil Foden celebrate following the UEFA Euro 2024, semi-final match at the BVB Stadion Dortmund in Dortmund, Germany. Picture date: Wednesday July 10, 2024.
Phil Foden celebrates England’s win with Kieran Trippier

Phil Foden believes his impressive performance against Netherlands was his best in an England shirt, saying: “The last two games have been improvements and the position’s helping me to get on the ball in dangerous areas.

“I looked more like myself, like I do for [Manchester] City – on the edge of the box, getting shots away.

“The main thing was the team winning but I feel like tonight was probably my best game in an England shirt. I’m delighted.”

Foden did not feature for England when they lost to Italy in the final three years ago but will expect to play against Spain, adding: “It means everything.

“It’s going to be the biggest game in my career. You can see the smile on my face – I’m just looking forward to it.

“We believe in our ability. We know Spain’s a fantastic team, with the way they keep the ball, but we know our own strengths. It could change all our lives.”

Van Dijk frustrated with referee’s performance

Harry Kane is challenged by Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk challenges Harry Kane during the semi-final

Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk was frustrated with referee Felix Zwayer’s performance in their defeat to England.

Asked if he was frustrated with the referee’s performance, the Liverpool defender said: “Yes.”

Pressed on what he was unhappy about, he replied: “Certain decisions. Referees can also make mistakes but we can communicate with the referee and obviously when I got the yellow card that was unnecessary, but certain decisions didn’t go our way and I don’t want to put that blame in the fact that we lost the game.

“Obviously it impacted the game a couple of times and everyone is trying to help the referees nowadays but they also have to be accountable as well at times.”

The 33-year-old added: “To concede in extra-time with the way we’d played in the second half, we were quite good against a very good England.

“We pushed them back and felt like we could score but obviously you don’t and our dreams come to an end and it’s very tough to take after such a demanding year and a tough tournament, but it’s the reality and it’s very disappointing.”

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