Positive England substitutions show Southgate's progress

The decisive introduction of Cole Palmer and Ollie Watkins as 80th-minute subs in Wednesday's Euros victory over the Netherlands showed that, even after 101 games in charge, Gareth Southgate's claim that he is "always learning" is spot on.

Southgate was pilloried for his touchline inertia in earlier games, most notably after he waited until the 95th minute to bring on Ivan Toney as England were trailing to Slovakia in the round of 16.

It had been a theme of his entire eight-year tenure that continued at the Euros and the more "outside noise" that developed the more he seemed to dig his heels in.

However, on Wednesday he introduced Luke Shaw for Kieran Trippier at halftime, and though that, if anything, seemed to take the steam out of England's all-action first half approach, Southgate was not done.

Harry Kane, who had scored the early equaliser from the penalty spot and looked the sharpest he has been all tournament, and Phil Foden, who hit the post and had a shot cleared off the line, were hooked.

It was no surprise that Palmer was one of the replacements as he has looked dangerous every time he has come on, but few saw Watkins getting the nod ahead of Toney.

It proved a masterstroke as Palmer delivered the pass and Watkins the unerring finish that won the game and sent England into a second successive Euros final.

In typical fashion, Southgate refused to gloat when asked about the changes, quietly saying "sometimes they work, sometimes they don't".

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