Euro 2024: England Match-Winner Watkins Swears Goal Planned

By People&Politics

ENGLAND match-winner Ollie Watkins swore on his life that he planned the decisive goal set up by Cole Palmer on the sidelines before coming on as substitutes in their 2-1 victory over Netherlands at the European Championship on Wednesday.

With the game tied 1-1, Watkins and Palmer came into the game at the 80-minute mark and connected on a goal that will go down in England history, as the Aston Villa striker beat Dutch keeper Bart Verbruggen in second-half injury time to send the Three Lions to a second consecutive Euro final.

“Unbelievable. I’ve been waiting for that moment for weeks, for weeks,” Watkins said after the game. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to where I am today, and grateful that I got the opportunity and I’ve grabbed it with both hands and I’m delighted.

“I swear on my life. I said to Cole Palmer, ‘We’re coming on today and you’re going to set me up,’ and that’s why I was so happy with Coley.

“I knew as soon as he got the ball he was going to play me and you’ve got to be greedy, touch and finish and when I’ve seen it go in the bottom corner, it’s the best feeling ever.”

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It was a sweet victory for England and Gareth Southgate, who have been subjected to major criticism from supporters for the lacklustre nature in which they navigated their way through this year’s tournament in Germany.

But critics aside, Southgate, who took over in 2016, has now led them to at least the quarterfinals in the past four major tournaments, the only European side to achieve this feat.

They lost to Italy on penalties in the final of Euro 2020, but now have the chance to go one better against Spain in Sunday’s showcase in Berlin and win the first major men’s trophy for England since the 1966 World Cup.

“It shows the more modern England way but also the resilience and character of the group,” Southgate said after the match. “Ollie Watkins has trained like that every day. He has trained for his moment no matter how frustrated.

“[The players] had each others’ back, they bonded so well and tonight it was an example of that.”

England needed penalties to overcome Switzerland in the past eight before the late winner Wednesday, and Southgate said his team had learned from knockout matches since the 2018 World Cup in Russia where they lost in the semifinals to Croatia.

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“We are more calm going into the knockout games. In Russia we had not won a knockout game in 10 years,” Southgate said. “To be able to take the team to the first final overseas I am immensely proud of that.”

England won the 1966 World Cup on home soil while the Euro 2020 final was also held at Wembley. This final will be the first played away from home for an England team, with their opponent Spain the in-form team at Euro 2024 so far.

“We will have to get the ball off them first,” Southgate said of their next opponents. “It is not as simple as us having the ball and making them run. We have to be exceptional with the ball and without it. They have been the best team.”

Spain are listed as favorites in the final, according to ESPN BET, with La Roja at -155 and England at +120 to win the tournament.

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