What Ollie Watkins said to Cole Palmer before England winner vs Netherlands | Football


England reached the Euro 2024 final thanks to a last-gasp winner from Ollie Watkins (Picture: Getty)

Ollie Watkins was the unlikely hero as England beat the Netherlands 2-1 to book their place in a second successive European Championship final – and the striker correctly predicted he would score a last-gasp winner in Dortmund.

The semi-final appeared to be heading in the direction of extra time, with neither side able to make the breakthrough after a Harry Kane penalty cancelled out Xavi Simons’ wondergoal in an absorbing first half.

But Gareth Southgate made the bold decision to bring off Kane for Watkins with England in search of a winner in the 81st minute – and it proved a masterstroke from the much-maligned manager.

Watkins immediately caused the Dutch problems with his added pace and the striker put his name up in lights in the final minute, beating Bart Verbruggen with an audacious finish to book the Three Lions a spot in Sunday’s showpiece versus Spain.

England beat Netherlands to reach Euro 2024 final – as it happened

Cole Palmer provided the assist for the jaw-dropping last-gasp goal, playing Watkins in with a perfectly weighted through ball, and the Aston Villa forward revealed how he had predicted the moment before the pair were introduced.

‘I swear on my life, my kids’ lives, 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,’ Watkins told ITV Sport shortly after his moment of brilliance.

‘I knew as soon as he got the ball that he was going to play me in and you’ve got to be greedy, touch and finish.

‘When I’ve seen it go in the bottom corner… it’s the best feeling ever.’

Watkins and Palmer were introduced in the closing stages before combing to score the winner (Picture: Getty)

Asked to describe his emotions, Watkins – who came on for only his second appearance at the tournament – added: ‘Unbelievable. I’ve been waiting for that moment for weeks.

‘It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to where I am today.

‘I’m grateful that I got the opportunity and I grabbed it with both hands. I’m delighted, I’m delighted.’

The Three Lions have booked their spot in a final of foreign soil for the first time in history (Picture: Getty)

Southgate has faced heavy criticism for his cautious approach across England’s campaign in Germany but there is no doubting the manager got his substitutions right in Dortmund.

‘Look, there’s been a lot of criticism but at the end of the day we’re in the final and that’s all that matters,’ Watkins said when asked about the criticism Southgate had come up against.

‘Forget all the outside noise, we’re in the final.’

Watkins underlined the never-say-die attitude and resilience within England’s group before looking ahead to Sunday’s clash with Spain.

‘We’ve got that kind of bounce-back factor, going a goal behind, but it seems to kick us into gear and we never give up,’ he continued.

‘We won on penalties, we’ve come from behind. One more game now, one more game.’

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