England player ratings: Foden back to his best as Mainoo shines again

England were poor throughout the group stages and just seconds away from being knocked out in the last 16 – yet they now find themselves in a second consecutive Euros final.

Gareth Southgate and his side followed up an improved performance against Switzerland last Saturday with comfortably their best display of the tournament to beat Netherlands and set up a final against Spain on Sunday.

It wasn’t perfect – but it was certainly a lot better than what went before. Are England peaking at just the right moment?

Jordan Pickford – 6

Jordan Pickford
Jordan Pickford was unable to keep out Xavi Simons’ early goal

Pickford’s first job of the evening was to pick the ball out the back of his net after Xavi Simons’ shot ripped past him. Could he have done better? It’s hardly his fault but a goalkeeper with a larger reach would have saved it. He did make a strong stop from Virgil van Dijk in the second half.

Kyle Walker – 6

Kyle Walker tackles Cody Gakpo
Kyle Walker produced two important last-ditch tackles but lacked precision on the ball

Asked to overlap Bukayo Saka when England had possession, Walker stuck to his task diligently but lacked precision in the final third. The Manchester City defender did use his pace to produce a couple of last-ditch tackles but isn’t the reassuring presence he once was in defence.

John Stones – 7

John Stones
John Stones commanded England’s defence

Stones marshalled England’s back three with confidence and completed nearly 98 per cent of his passes. He avoided a repeat of his disastrous display against Netherlands in the Nations League semi-final in 2019 – although one meandering run along his own backline tested the nerves of England’s supporters.

Marc Guehi – 7

Marc Guehi tackles Wout Weghorst
Marc Guehi looks at home in England’s defence

Guehi justified Gareth Southgate’s decision to restore him to the side. Like Stones, he was almost faultless in possession, while he produced a vital tackle on Wout Weghorst late in the game. Guehi’s place in England’s defence should be secure beyond Euro 2024.

Bukayo Saka – 7

Bukayo Saka and Xavi Simons battle for possession
Bukayo Saka impressed in defence and attack

Saka has adapted to his role in Southgate’s new formation impressively, performing his defensive duties as the right wing-back and running dangerously at Netherlands’ backline in the first half when England came forward. Like most of England’s players, he faded in the second period.

Kobbie Mainoo – 8

Mainoo’s performance was the kind that makes you wonder why it took until midway through England’s third game in Germany for Southgate to pair him alongside Declan Rice. The 19-year-old’s excellent run almost produced an assist for Phil Foden, while his defensive work was stronger than at any point during this tournament.

Declan Rice – 6

Declan Rice
Declan Rice is not quite at his best this summer

Rice hasn’t been at his best in this tournament and things didn’t improve against Netherlands. He was robbed by Simons for the Dutch midfielder’s goal and was regularly overrun on England’s left side. He may have only misplaced six passes but the statistics don’t tell the whole story – he’s not quite at his best.

Kieran Trippier – 5

Kieran Trippier
Kieran Trippier could be replaced by Luke Shaw in the final

Southgate put Trippier out of his misery at half-time. The number of impressive displays produced by England’s players in the first half made the Newcastle full-back’s struggles stand out even more. To be fair to Trippier, he’s being played out of position – but he should be benched for Luke Shaw on Sunday.

Phil Foden – 8

Phil Foden beats Denzel Dumfries
Phil Foden was back to his best for England

Foden is a totally different player to the one that stood on the periphery of England’s first four games – hardly surprising given he is finally being deployed in his favoured position. Foden, Mainoo and Saka ran the show in the first half, with the Man City midfielder seeing a shot cleared off the line and clipping the post from range. He’s hitting form at the right time.

Jude Bellingham – 6

Jude Bellingham
Jude Bellingham faded in the second half

As always, Bellingham was dangerous carrying the ball from deep, while the change to a 3-4-3 formation has successfully stopped him and Foden occupying each other’s space. Like many of his team-mates, he seemed to tire in the second half, with his touch letting him down on a few occasions. He was dominated in the air by Denzel Dumfries from Netherlands’ set-pieces.

Harry Kane – 7

Harry Kane levels for England from the penalty spot
Harry Kane levelled for England from the penalty spot

This was probably Kane’s best performance of Euro 2024 – yet he’s still way off his best. He made the most of Dumfries’ tackle to win a soft penalty and was nerveless from the spot to quickly level after Simons’ goal. But he was virtually immobile in the second half as balls bounced off him, while he often lacked the stamina to get into the box when England’s wide players crossed from the byline. Watkins’ run behind Netherlands’ defence for the winner only highlighted Kane’s lack of movement.


Luke Shaw (on for Kieran Trippier) – 7

Luke Shaw passes under pressure from Xavi Simons
Luke Shaw improved England’s left side when coming on at half time

Shaw is understandably lacking sharpness but he’s still providing so much more than Trippier as the left wing-back. Fitness permitting, he has to start against Spain.

Cole Palmer (on for Phil Foden) – 7

Cole Palmer
Cole Palmer claimed the assist for Ollie Watkins’ winner

Given less than 15 minutes, Palmer still had time to produce the assist for Watkins’ brilliant winner. The Chelsea star could have entered the field earlier as Bellingham, Foden and Saka tired. He’ll have a role to play in the final.

Ollie Watkins (on for Harry Kane) – 8

Ollie Watkins celebrates after giving England the lead against the Netherlands
Ollie Watkins fired England to a stunning late win over Netherlands

Watkins produced a moment he and England’s fans will remember forever – a 90th-minute winner to send his country to a major final. His run behind Netherlands’ backline, followed by a cracking finish, provided everything England had been missing in the second half.

Conor Gallagher (on for Kobbie Mainoo) – n/a

Gallagher came on in the 93rd minute but still had time to produce one of his trademark flying tackles.

Ezri Konsa (on for Bukayo Saka) – n/a

Konsa was unfortunate to lose his place to Guehi and only came on deep into stoppage time against Netherlands.

Manager – Gareth Southgate – 8

Gareth Southgate gestures 'one more game' to the fans after England's semi-final win against the Netherlands
Gareth Southgate gestures ‘one more game’ to the fans after England’s semi-final win against Netherlands

Like his team, Southgate produced his finest work of the summer for England’s biggest match so far. The manager deserves credit for recognising the need to switch to a new formation, as well as helping his players play so freely on such a big stage. So often criticised for his in-game management, it should be noted that two of Southgate’s subs – Palmer and Watkins – combined for the winner. England’s midfield is still too open and his loyalty to Trippier has to stop – but Southgate has taken his country to another final.

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