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EURO 2024

Netherlands coach Koeman says referee made mistake with disallowed goal

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Euro 2024 - Group D - Netherlands v France - Leipzig Stadium, Leipzig, Germany - June 21, 2024 Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman shakes hands with with the match officials as Denzel Dumfries reacts REUTERS/Karina Hessland

Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman said the referee made a mistake in ruling out a goal for his side against France at the European Championship on Friday but added that both sides were happy with a point in their 0-0 Group D draw.

A second half strike from Xavi Simons was chalked off because Denzel Dumfries, standing offside next to goalkeeper Mike Maignan, was penalised with the decision eventually confirmed by VAR after a lengthy delay.

But Koeman said he has looked at images of the incident afterwards and strongly disagreed with English referee Anthony Taylor.

“The position of Dumfries is offside, that’s true. But he isn’t disturbing the goalkeeper. And when that does not happen then it’s a legal goal in my opinion,” the Dutch coach told a post-match press conference.

“Did they need five minutes to check it because it’s so difficult? I don’t understand this. He’s not disturbing the goalkeeper,” added Koeman.

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But the goalless stalemate was a satisfactory outcome for both sides, he said.

The game fizzled out into a tepid ending, ensuring the two sides reached four points and will almost surely go through to the knockout stage

“Although I think that the goal should have stood, my takeaway from this is it is a fair result.

“I can accept this, although there were times during the game where we weren’t up to scratch and that’s probably due to the fact that we were up against a great opponent in France.

“But we have four points from two games and played against the big favourites. I would have signed up for that beforehand. I’m happy, I don’t know about you,” he asked reporters.

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“Maybe you’ll say the Dutch were boring and defensive, and that is allowed. But I had the feeling France were happy to leave the field with a point too.”

Simons said there was no point arguing about the goal decision. “The VAR makes the decision, ultimately you can’t do anything about it,” the 21-year-old said.

“I can say something, but it won’t change anything. It’s the referee’s choice, we have to move on.”

He too seemed satisfied with the point.

“The most important thing was to give a good performance. We knew France’s qualities and of course we wanted to win, but we took a point,” Simons added.

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-Reuters

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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EURO 2024

Gareth Southgate dares to dream as England eye end to long wait for Euros glory

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England manager Gareth Southgate said he does not believe that fate is guiding the Three Lions to Euro 2024 glory, but is dreaming of ending a 58-year wait to win a major tournament in Sunday’s final against Spain.

Three years on from losing the Euro 2020 final on home soil to Italy, Southgate’s men have another opportunity to become European champions for the first time in Berlin.

England have struggled on their road to the final, needing a series of late goals, fightbacks and a penalty shoot-out against Switzerland in the quarter-finals.

Southgate said that did not mean they were destined to beat a Spanish side who have been a class apart in the competition so far.

However, it would a reward for England’s consistency in never failing to reach at least the quarter-finals in the four tournaments Southgate has taken charge of.

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“I’m not a believer in fairy tales but I am a believer in dreams,” Southgate said at his pre-match press conference on July 13.

“We’ve had big dreams, we’ve felt the need and the importance of that but then you have to make those things happen.

“Fate, the run that we’ve had, the late goals, the penalties, that doesn’t equate to it being our moment, we have to make it happen tomorrow and perform at the level that we need to perform.

“Of course it would be a lovely story but it’s in our hands and our performance is the most important thing.”

AFP

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EURO 2024

Spain to offer relentless pressing against England

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 Euro 2024 - Semi Final - Spain v France - Munich Football Arena, Munich, Germany - July 9, 2024 Spain's Fabian Ruiz and Alvaro Morata react REUTERS/Annegret Hilse/File Photo

Spain go into Sunday’s Euro 2024 final as slight favourites over England after not only being the most attractive team to watch at the tournament but having won every match they have played.

The Spaniards have emerged as a team that can quickly adapt their strategy to their opponents without giving up their direct attacking game in favour of a results-based performance.

They outsmarted France in the semi-finals despite falling a goal behind and it took them just five minutes to score twice to take the lead with their relentless pressing game and vertical passing that forced the French to resort to long balls.

With Rodri as their midfield dynamo, a strategist matching Germany’s Toni Kroos in impressive passing efficiency but with a more attack-minded approach, the battle in the centre of the pitch is expected to play a key role in the outcome.

England will have to wrestle possession from Spain, who also have the outstanding Fabian Ruiz in midfield, a player who for many is already the player of the tournament.

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With lightning wingers Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal, who turns 17 on Saturday and is the youngest scorer at a Euros or World Cup, ripping up defences and able to score and provide assists, England’s fullbacks will have their hands full.

Spain are the first team to win six games at a single Euros following their victory over France, up to that stage the team with the tournament’s best defence.

A second successive Euro final for England and coach Gareth Southgate is no mean feat even though they had to endure weeks of criticism, especially in the group phase, for lacklustre performances and with little punching power up front.

England’s defence, however, has remained solid and with the pace of John Stones and Kyle Walker, when they do get exposed, they have proved adept at scrambling recoveries.

SPANISH POSSESSION

Spain’s ball possession and movement will likely give England their biggest test so far and key to Southgate’s side being able to stay in shape is the incredible work of defensive midfield screen Declan Rice.

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His anticipation of danger areas plus his movement, strength and determination have made him arguably England’s best player in Germany as he patrols in front of the back four, firefighting wherever the danger pops up.

The rest of England’s midfield also stepped up against the Netherlands in the semi-finals in terms of regaining possession, with Kobbie Mainoo, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden all showing an appetite to spoil and stifle.

After their largely misfiring group stage, with two goals in three matches, Southgate will have been reassured by what he saw against the Dutch when his big names stepped up and started creating sustained danger from out wide and through the middle.

He will encourage Jude Bellingham to run hard at the same defenders the midfielder bullied en route to becoming LaLiga player of the year, while reminding Harry Kane how much more effective he was in the semi when he did his work in and around the box rather than going deep as he often did previously.

One area of concern is England’s failure to be dangerous at set piece situations. Defensively they looked vulnerable in the air against a very big Netherlands team but that is unlikely to be so much of a factor versus Spain.

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-Reuters

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EURO 2024

Euro finals facts and records

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Here are some facts and records of European Championship finals ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2024 showcase between Spain and England:

Most titles: Spain (3), Germany/West Germany (3)

If Spain win the title on Sunday they will be the only team to have won the title four times.

Most finals: Germany/West Germany (6), Spain (5, including Euro 2024)

Titles won by the Euro 2024 finalists

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Spain: 1964, 2008, 2012

England: –

Biggest win in final: Spain beat Italy 4-0 in 2012.

Finals decided in extra-time: 1960, 1996, 2000, 2016

Finals decided by penalties: 1976, 2020

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Final played twice: 1968. The final won by Italy was played twice after the first match against Yugoslavia ended 1-1 after extra-time. Penalties had not yet been introduced as deciders.

Defending champions winning the title: Spain 2012

Teams that won the title after reaching the final in the previous edition:

1980 West Germany (finalists in 1976)

1996 Germany

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England reached the 2020 final which they lost to Italy and are in the final once more.

Teams that won the title without requiring penalty shootouts during the tournament since their introduction:

France (2000), Greece (2004)

If England win they will be the seventh team in the last nine Euros to have triumphed after winning a shootout at some point in the tournament.

Third-placed team in group stage to win the title: Portugal (2016)

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Red cards in final: 1984 Yvon Le Roux (France)

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