Winning The Tournament Is Still Our Aim, Says Southgate After England's Euro 2024 Final Entry


(MENAFN- IANS) Dortmund, July 11 (IANS) England manager Gareth Southgate heaped praise on his players and remained committed to their goal of winning the Euro 2024 after his side sealed their first major final spot on foreign soil after beating Netherlands 2-1 in the semi-final to set up a summit clash with Spain.

England came from behind to turn the tide in their favour after conceding the early goal in the seventh minute of the game. Xavi Simons stunned the English defence as he struck the ball from outside the box on the top left of Jordan Pickford's post. His goal gave the upper hand to the Dutch team in the clash before Harry Kane scored an equaliser on the penalty. In the 90th minute of the clash, substitute Ollie Watkins' goal kept England's hopes alive to win their first European title.

"I took the job to try to improve English football and we're now in a second final. The last one was the first in over 50 years. We're now in a first one overseas. We're giving people amazing nights. We've given our supporters some of the best nights in the last 50 years. I'm hugely proud of that," Southgate said after the match.

"I'm delighted if everyone at home is feeling the way we are and the way those in the stadium were. But we're not finished. We've got the greatest possible test to prepare for. We came here to try to win the tournament and that's still our aim," he added.

England have had a difficult journey to the final, being the first team in Euros history to do so after trailing in both their quarter-final and semi-final matches.

Jude Bellingham's bicycle kick in the 95th minute put them ahead of Slovakia in the last 16, and they needed a penalty shootout to beat Switzerland. In fury, fans threw plastic cups aimed at Southgate after their 0-0 draw with Slovenia in the group stages.

"We all want to be loved, right? When you're doing something for your country, you're a proud Englishman - you don't feel that back and all you read is criticism, it's hard," said Southgate.

"To be able to celebrate a second final is very special. If I had not been on the grass, I would have been watching and celebrating like (the fans) were.

"I'm the one that has to pick a team so to be able to give them a night like tonight was very special. We have come here to win and play the team who have been the best in the tournament [in the final]. But we're still here and fighting," he concluded.

England will face spirited Spain in the summit clash of the tournament at Olympiastadion Berlin on Monday, July 15.

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IANS

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