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England into European Championship final after last-minute goal

England into European Championship final after last-minute goal

You can't start a fire without a spark.“England fans sing Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics all the time during the European Championship. You can’t start a fire without a spark, but England have had plenty of sparks – Gary Lineker said in a podcast that they are playing “foolishly”, losing to Slovakia in the last 16, to Switzerland in the quarter-finals – without really starting.

They come back from setbacks, confused, searching, and not finding what might work.

Now they are further away – again. Why how?

– Character, as national team captain Gareth Southgate says after the match.

When Xavi Simons Taking the ball from Declan Rice, he surges forward and makes it 1-0 to the Netherlands after seven minutes in the semi-final in Dortmund, Jordan Pickford starts in the England goal with the gesture.

Ignoring the celebrating opposition players behind him, he steps forward and speaks skeptically to defenders John Stones and Marc Guehi.

But England are not busy complaining. They hurry up.

The person who made his decision was Harry Kane.

After 14 minutes he hit the post, but Bart Verbruggen saved it.

After a short while, you have Next chance, when he pounces on a ball that bounces into the penalty area. The shot goes high, but it doesn't end there. Just as everyone thinks Bart Verbruggen is going to kick the ball, VAR steps in. There's a penalty, and the referee rules that Denzel Dumfries is responsible for a careless tackle when he had the spikes in front of him at the moment of the shot.

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Criticism immediately begins to pour in on social media, and from commentators in TV studios, there are many who disagree. But it is a punishment.

When Jude Bellingham played for Borussia Dortmund, he criticised the referee of the day, Felix Zwayer, for being allowed to officiate despite having been previously suspended for match-fixing. In this match, the German referee awards a penalty to England, and after some time, Jude Bellingham receives a yellow card.

Harry Kane is out A penalty in the World Cup quarter-final two years ago. Now he takes his time, applauds and cheers himself on, and scores England's equaliser.

England continue to play with clarity, it's been a long time since they've done that. And they're close to being efficient too.

After that talk Gareth Southgate talks about a “very complicated game” where they had to make changes all the time.

– I was very happy with the quality of our play and I think it's been a long time, if ever, that an English team has had more than 60 per cent of the ball in a game like this. It shows a more modern approach to England, but it also shows the resilience and character of the group.

After about half an hour, the Netherlands were exceptionally in control for a while, and Denzel Dumfries almost had a rebound shot on target – it went over the bar.

Two minutes later When England's Phil Foden hit the woodwork, he looked long as his curling shot hit the wrong side of the bar.

If some of the quarter-finals were quiet tales as teams waited for each other, the first half of the semi-finals was a spectacle.

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England fans are fewer than the Dutch, but they and the team dominate the event.

That orangewho had been jumping and singing earlier, had become noticeably quieter.

It is also remarkable how everything swung in the second half. England began to lose the energy they had found, and became more passive. The Netherlands took more of the initiative in the match, and the chants rose higher and higher from the orange wall of the Westfalenstadion.

It looked like it would all end in extra time, but with the clock ticking down to 90, Ollie Watkins scores. He has his back to goal and Stefan de Vrij is behind him when he receives the ball, but he turns, shoots and becomes a national hero.

He played By Cole Palmer, both of whom were substituted with ten minutes remaining to replace Harry Kane and Phil Foden.

“We made some changes to regain control and in the last 20 minutes I think we were the better team, we attacked more,” said Netherlands captain Ronald Koeman after the match.

– Then came the knockout blow in the 90th minute. It was a beautiful goal, and then it was over. It's hard to accept.

All in England The substitutes run onto the pitch and celebrate, and the crowd never stops singing.

The match ends 2-1 to England, with the Dutch players sitting or lying all over the pitch, the English jumping and cheering. Finally they gather in the corner in front of their fans and offer their thanks.

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“I didn't want to leave the pitch, I just wanted to stay and take it all in,” the match hero says afterwards.