England player ratings v Netherlands: Watkins a national hero as Foden, Mainoo shine

Will Ford
Watkins England Euro 2024
Ollie Watkins celebrates his late winner for England.

As fluent and fluid as we’ve seen England in the first half. More of a struggle in the second but more late drama courtesy of Ollie Watkins means we can’t help but believe.

Gareth Southgate’s substitutes did the trick in victory over the Netherlands, but the starters were really rather good as well. Breathe and read the player ratings…


Jordan Pickford
Roy Keane just about stopped himself from claiming he should have done better with Xavi Simons’ rasping shot. Rightly so, it was a stunning strike. Made a relatively simple save from Virgil van Dijk and played one notable pass to Jude Bellingham. Probably fancied pens, but can now delight in making more bottle notes for the final.


Kyle Walker
Hold your run, Kyle. Great pass for Bukayo Saka, but absolutely no need to go that millisecond too early. That did illustrate his willingness to get forward from right centre-back though, which was in stark contrast to his lack of attacking threat when playing at full-back.

Also popped up in midfield in an almost comically fluid first half from England given what we’ve seen of them before and made a couple of well-timed tackles after speedy recovery runs.


John Stones
Occasionally saw him on the ball in advance of the other two centre-backs, which was nice, and he was as calm in possession as we’ve seen him, choosing to beat opponents on the ball in a bid to get England on the front foot rather than always choosing the easy option. Won all five of his duels.


Marc Guehi
He’s got a bit of the John Terrys about him, y’know. Body on the line to get up off the ground and stop Wout Weghorst after a decent Netherlands break and looked solid and assured besides.

Drove forward as England struggled to regain the momentum of the first half after the break a couple of times and was disappointed not to be given the ball back by Harry Kane on one occasion having played the ball into the striker’s feet. A very, very good centre-back will be required to get him out of this team now.


Bukayo Saka
At his slippery best but couldn’t quite get in the positions to make the telling difference on this occasion. Would have scored if Walker hadn’t been quite so keen and the three times he won possession in the final third was more than any player on the pitch.


Declan Rice
Shouldn’t be robbed of the ball as he was by Xavi Simons. Just a bit weak, really. Then rather scuffed an attempt to square a Trippier free-kick under no pressure at the back post and later played a terrible pass over the head of Kane having intercepted the ball high up the pitch.

There was plenty of right place, right time stuff as is required of him as the deepest midfielder and there’s no doubt in the first half that he and Mainoo had the better of Jerdy Schouten and Tijjani Reijnders, who have been arguably the best Dutch performers at Euro 2024.

👉 16 Conclusions on England 2-1 Netherlands: Watkins, subs, Mainoo, Southgate, *that* penalty and more
👉 Euro 2024 Power Rankings: England seal top-two spot but Spain remain favourites
👉 A step-by-step guide to show Harry Kane has actually scored precisely zero proper goals for England


Kobbie Mainoo
The Trent Alexander-Arnold experiment and Conor Gallagher sticking plaster feel like a very long time ago.

You may well have seen the 96 per cent pass accuracy stat doing the rounds, which gave Mainoo the best of any midfielder at a European Championship since 1980, and the ensuing social media battle between Manchester United fans over-hyping him and his detractors – let’s call them Liverpool fans – claiming most of his 138 passes were over five yards and backwards.

86 per cent in the first half here, with one of those passes splitting the Netherlands defence to set up Foden, but he was brilliant in everything he did. A proper box-to-box display, winning possession high up the pitch, driving forward with the ball at his feet, tackles to prevent counter-attacks. The confidence of a player with fewer than 50 senior appearances to his name is absurd.

Thank f*** there is no “natural replacement for Kalvin Phillips”.


Kieran Trippier
Will have been a tad worried after about a minute – as we were – when Donyell Malen came short and then span in behind him. But the Netherlands didn’t really have the ball enough to make the most of what looked like it could be a productive avenue for them.

Produced one excellent cross to the back post from a free-kick and got forward more than we’ve seen before, but was once again a hindrance for England as the ball came out to him on that left side. Rightly replaced by Luke Shaw in the name of balance at half-time.


Jude Bellingham
Probably won’t be marking Dumfries in future having been outjumped by the Dutchman on three occasions from set-pieces, and in truth there again weren’t too many memorable moments from Bellingham, who’s made it near impossible for Southgate to take him off after the overhead kick madness.

Turned brilliantly in the first half to play the ball into Kane ahead of the penalty but the biggest JUUUDDDEEE was saved for the dying moments as he charged down the wing to win a free-kick and waste time.


Phil Foden
As brilliant in the first half here as he was overhyped by the BBC for his first-half display against Switzerland. The unsurprising key to the difference was Foden doing half-turns and neat touches about 30 yards further forward, in areas where he could hurt the Netherlands.

He hit the post with a rasping curler from The Lamine Yamal Position, as it will be known on the basis of this tournament, but could just as easily be named after Foden himself given the regularity with which he’s scored from that right side of the D for Manchester City. Would have scored were it not for Denzel Dumfries on the line after a brilliant take from Mainoo’s pass and a quick left-right-nutmeg of Bart Verbruggen. Far less influential in the second half and was taken off at the right time by Southgate, leaving the field with 100 per cent pass accuracy.


Harry Kane
Did all of his good work in a ten-minute spell early in the first half, hitting one effort from 30 yards to test Bart Verbruggen, coming deep to link the play like The Real Harry Kane before switching it to the right, and winning a very suspect penalty between.

Possibly the first time on record that a penalty has been given when a striker gets his shot off. We’re all for spot kicks being given in those instances by the way, but this was a weird one to make the yardstick. Looked to us like Denzel Dumfries was just trying to block the shot. Anyway, Kane converted with aplomb and is now somehow level at the top of the goalscoring charts despite what we assume must be near-constant back spasms given his lack of impact.


Luke Shaw (on for Trippier, 45)
Didn’t have quite the impact we thought he might but that was more down to the Netherlands’ improvement. Messed up his first crossing opportunity, hitting the first man, but took a lovely touch late on before delivering a ball into a lovely area with too few people in the box.


Cole Palmer (on for Foden, 80)
Hit one shot high and wide but all was forgiven as he slid that pass through the defence and into Watkins’ path. Kept the ball skillfully in the build-up to that goal as well.


Ollie Watkins (on for Kane, 81)
‘Some bits of good movement,’ we wrote in anticipation of struggling for things to write about for Watkins, before he became a national hero. If there’s An Ollie Watkins Goal, that’s it. Run in behind, touch out of his feet and arrowed shot into the corner. We could not be happier that it was him.

Conor Gallagher (on for Mainoo, 90+3)
Nicked the ball away from an opponent to one of the biggest cheers of the night.


Ezri Konsa (on for Saka, 90+3)
No touches is exactly what he will have been hoping for.

👉 16 Conclusions on England 2-1 Netherlands: Watkins, subs, Mainoo, Southgate, *that* penalty and more
👉 Euro 2024 Power Rankings: England seal top-two spot but Spain remain favourites
👉 A step-by-step guide to show Harry Kane has actually scored precisely zero proper goals for England