The hopes were pretty high for England heading into the UEFA Nations League semi-finals, especially off the back of their big wins against Croatia and Spain in the last round. Heading into the game it seemed as if they had a pretty good chance of progressing, but it was always worth noting that the Netherlands have improved substantially in recent months.
It was a game of high drama and high stakes, with the winner progressing to face Portugal in the Nations League final. For long periods it seemed as if England were the ones on top, but of course, you can never count out the Dutch when they’re on a good run of form.
With that being said it was indeed the Three Lions who got off to the best start, and half an hour into the game that paid off when Marcus Rashford gave them the lead from the penalty spot. They rode their luck at times from that point on, all the way up until the final 15 minutes when Matthijs de Ligt drew the Netherlands level.
Keep your head
Thankfully for Southgate’s men they were able to calm things down pretty quickly, and in the final few minutes, it seemed as if Jesse Lingard had given England a late winner. Alas, VAR intervened and ensured that the goal was disallowed, meaning we were back at level pegging. The Dutch then had a penalty appeal of their own turned down, as things continued to fire up heading into extra time.
It was there that England crumbled, due to a cavalcade of errors. John Stones was caught in possession by Memphis Depay who forced a lovely save out of Jordan Pickford, only for Kyle Walker to accidentally bundle the ball in for an own goal. Another error occurred when Ross Barkley was the man caught on the ball, as the Dutch ran out 3-1 winners in extra time to book their place in the final – as reported by BBC. England, on the other hand, have a third place play-off to contend against Switzerland.
Look on the bright side
In a weird way, one of the benefits of this loss is that it frees people up for another important tournament that is about to get started: the Women’s World Cup. Evening Standard is reporting that the England national team are fired up and hungrier than ever before to try and get the job done in France, and to be honest, we think that fans should be giving them as much support as they did for the men last summer.
The stakes might not be seen as being quite as high, but women’s football has been on the rise for a good few years now. Sure, England’s loss in the men’s semi final is going to hurt for a little while longer, but they’ve got the European Championships to get excited about next year.
The Women’s World Cup is going to be one of the biggest sporting events of the summer, and it’s about time that we started treating it as such.