Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Euro 2024: Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman accuses VAR of ‘breaking football’ in defeat to England – BBC Sport

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Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Harry Kane scored the penalty for England in the 18th minute after Denzel Dumfries’ block was referred to VAR

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman criticised the use of video assistant referees (VAR) for “breaking football” after England were awarded a contentious penalty in Tuesday’s tense Euro 2024 semi-final.

The Dutch had taken an early lead through Xavi Simons’ powerful strike but Gareth Southgate’s side were handed a lifeline when Harry Kane was caught on the follow-through by Denzel Dumfries after the England captain had already shot over the bar.

No penalty was given originally but referee Felix Zwayer then pointed to the spot after he was advised to go to the monitor by VAR.

Kane levelled with the spot-kick and substitute Ollie Watkins struck a 90th-minute winner to send England to Sunday’s final, where they will play Spain.

  • Author, Gary Rose
  • Role, BBC Sport journalist

“In my opinion it should not have been a penalty,” said Koeman.

“He kicked the ball and the boots touched. I think that we cannot play properly football and this is due to VAR. It really breaks football.”

Former England defender and ITV pundit Gary Neville felt the Netherlands had every right to feel aggrieved.

“As a defender, I think it’s an absolutely disgraceful decision,” he said.

“There’s no way that was a penalty. He just goes in naturally to block the shot. It’s not a penalty for me.”

Ex-England striker Alan Shearer said on BBC Radio 5 live: “There is no doubt that there is contact, but the defender [Dumfries] is trying to block the ball.

“The follow-through from Harry Kane makes the connection and I didn’t think it was a howler to be turned over.”

Netherlands and Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk also felt the penalty decision was the turning point in the game.

“I think the penalty moment is a big moment, England had some confidence out of it,” he added.

“I think so many decisions didn’t go our way, but I don’t want to speak about the referee.”

Video caption, Kane penalty levels the score against Netherlands

‘England can stop Spain, why not?’

Despite seeing the Netherlands’ hopes of a first European Championship title since 1988 dashed, Koeman offered England backing for the final.

Spain have arguably been the best side at Euro 2024, winning every game they have played, but Koeman sees no reason why Southgate’s side cannot claim a first major trophy since 1966.

“I think England showed great football in the first half after [being] 1-0 down,” he added.

“It is football. Maybe if you watch all of the matches of the Spanish team, maybe they are playing more offensive, great wingers and ball possession and you need to stop that.

“But England are in the final and have the possibility to win it. Spain are playing on a high level but England can stop them. Why not?”

Video caption, Highlights: Watkins sends England to Euro 2024 final

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