What Gareth Southgate did minutes after the final whistle of the semi-final victory

England booked their place in the Euro 2024 final thanks to Ollie Watkins’ 90th-minute winner against the Netherlands – and Gareth Southgate was left emotional afterwards

Euro 2024: England fans celebrate Watkins’ victory on Virgin Voyages cruise

Instead of grandiloquent celebrations, Gareth Southgate took time for a quiet phone call after England’s dramatic victory over the Netherlands at Euro 2024.

Southgate replaced his captain Harry Kane and star player Phil Foden with Ollie Watkins and Cole Palmer in the 81st minute and reaped the rewards minutes later. Watkins latched on to Palmer’s pass before firing a low shot into the bottom corner from a tight angle.

Watkins revealed after the match that he knew he and Palmer were going to combine to score a goal. Southgate has been criticised for his slow use of substitutions at Euro 2024, but his changes worked perfectly in Dortmund to secure the final against Spain in Berlin on Sunday.

As reported by ITV, Southgate was seen speaking on the phone shortly after the final whistle, sharing his joy with someone close to him. He now hopes England can improve on their performance in 2021, when they suffered disappointment on penalties against Italy at Wembley.

“We played really well,” Southgate told ITV. “It was a tough game and we had to keep changing the way we played in defence, especially. We had to adapt all the time and the players made a lot of good decisions. The end is special for the team and a reward for what they are giving to the cause.”

Asked about his decision to bring in Watkins and Palmer, he added: “The most important thing is that the whole team is ready to go into the game. We felt that, in terms of energy, we were starting to lose a bit of pressure and Harry got injured. Ollie can press well and make those runs in behind. We thought it was a good time to try him. I’m really proud that Ollie got his moment.”

Gareth Southgate has guided England to another Euro final((Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)

England fell behind after seven minutes when Xavi Simons capitalised on a Declan Rice error to beat Jordan Pickford. But the Three Lions responded well, although they needed a controversial penalty to level the score through Harry Kane.

Phil Foden cleared a shot off the line and it crashed off the post, while Denzel Dumfries hit the bar for the Netherlands before the dramatic finale. “It was a very special night and I hope it is for everyone at home as well. I thought our performance was really good,” Southgate added to BBC Radio 5 Live.

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