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With a late goal fit for a king, England reaches another Euro final by beating Netherlands 2-1

DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — England is into another European Championship final after its latest dramatic, come-from-behind win that even took King Charles III on a roller coaster ride.

Ollie Watkins, who came on for captain Harry Kane in a bold call by England coach Gareth Southgate, scored in the first minute of stoppage time to earn England a 2-1 win over the Netherlands on Wednesday and a shot at Spain in the title match.

In the knockout stage at Euro 2024, England has scored a stoppage-time equalizer through Jude Bellingham before edging past Slovakia in the last 16 and needed a penalty-shootout to see off Switzerland in the quarterfinals.

The English are keeping their supporters back home on the edge of their seats as the men's team moves closer to a first title since the 1966 World Cup — and that includes its monarch.

“If I may encourage you to secure victory before the need for any last minute wonder-goals or another penalties drama, I am sure the stresses on the nation’s collective heart rate and blood pressure would be greatly alleviated!” the king said in a congratulatory message soon after the game in Dortmund.

Watkins' goal was fit for a king.

He had only made one previous appearance at Euro 2024 — as a substitute in the group game against Denmark — so it was a surprise when he was introduced by Southgate in the 80th minute in England’s biggest match so far.

The gamble paid off.

Fed by another substitute in Cole Palmer, Watkins took a touch with his back to goal just inside the area and, from a tight angle, smashed a fierce shot into the bottom corner.

“Unbelievable — I’ve been waiting for that moment for weeks,” said Watkins, the Aston Villa striker who was the fourth-equal top scorer in the Premier League last season. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to where I am today. I got the opportunity and took it with both hands.”

It was painful for Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman.

“I had a feeling toward the end of the match that maybe we could score,” Koeman said, "and for sure in extra time I’d have put money on us.”

England will play Lamine Yamal and Spain in Sunday's final in Berlin. It will be the nation's first title match on foreign soil, having won the World Cup in 1966 and lost to Italy in the Euro 2020 final — both times at Wembley Stadium.

“It’s going to be unbelievably tough – a really difficult game,” Kane said of the title match, with Spain widely regarded as the best team at the tournament. “One more game to make history.”

The sea of orange in the giant South Stand at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion fell silent for the first time after Watkins' late goal. It housed the most vocal of the Dutch supporters who dominated the city center before marching in their thousands to the stadium ahead of the game. Police reported three separate clashes between fans from both countries in the city.

It gave the occasion the feeling of a home match for the Dutch and England was up against it even more after the 21-year-old Xavi Simons became the second youngest scorer for the Netherlands at a Euros.

The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder dispossessed Declan Rice about 40 meters (yards) out, drove forward and unleashed a shot into the far corner from outside the area.

Compared to the 16-year-old Yamal, Spain’s new superstar, Simons is a soccer veteran but this was another case of a young player shining on the big stage at the Euros.

Kane has had plenty of big moments at major tournaments and he had another when he slotted home a penalty after Denzel Dumfries’ outstretched leg made contact with Kane’s foot as the England striker attempted a shot.

Kane became the sixth player to be on three goals for the tournament.

An open first half, which saw Dumfries and England’s Phil Foden hit the goal frame, made way for a tight and tense second half that had a huge two-minute spell when Bukayo Saka had a goal disallowed before Kane and Foden were taken off.

It might rank as Southgate’s best call in his eight-year England tenure. And that the goal was set up by Palmer, who entered as a substitute the same time as Watkins, will have have made it even sweeter.

“We are giving people some amazing nights ... but we are not finished,” Southgate said.

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024