Deflated Dutch see dream of a first European title in 36 years slip away as coach disputes penalty

DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — Dutch fans came to the stadium in a rousing march, 100,000 strong. It will feel like a long journey home.

When Ollie Watkins' added-time goal sealed a 2-1 win for England over the Netherlands in the Euro 2024 semifinals on Wednesday, it ended the orange-clad Dutch fans' dream of a first European Championship title since 1988.

“A great goal, but then it's over, and that's difficult to accept,” Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman said.

The journey home will not be without some bitterness after a hotly disputed penalty decision in England’s favor after Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries made contact with Harry Kane while trying to block a shot.

“In my opinion this should not have been a penalty,” Koeman said through an interpreter. "I think that we cannot play properly football and this is due to VAR. It really breaks football.”

Until the penalty call that put England firmly back in the game, it had been a party atmosphere for the Dutch fans.

The towering South Stand — famed as a “Yellow Wall” for Borussia Dortmund games, now bright orange — was alive with dancing fans, while beach balls and balloons bounced between rows of supporters.

A win for the Netherlands would have meant a final against Spain in Berlin on Sunday, a rematch of the Dutch team's last major-tournament final when it was runner-up at the 2010 World Cup.

It had been an uneven tournament for Koeman's team, which impressed in a 0-0 draw with France in the group stage, which it perhaps should have won if not for a VAR offside call against Dumfries. A 3-2 loss against Austria in the next game showed the Dutch team was vulnerable, before knockout wins over outclassed Romania and a spirited Turkey team.

In a semifinal game of fine margins, much revolved around Dumfries once again.

The right wing back gave away the penalty which allowed England to level the score, hit the crossbar with a header at the other end, and cleared Phil Foden's shot off the goal-line to stop England scoring again.

“There was contact so you think he can give it," was his verdict on the penalty to Dutch broadcaster NOS. "It’s annoying. I take responsibility. I didn’t do it deliberately. It happens in a split second."


AP Euro 2024:

07/10/2024 22:39 -0400

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