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Virgil van Dijk says referee should explain why he awarded England penalty

Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk called on referee Felix Zwayer to explain his controversial decision to award England a penalty as the Dutch ultimately went on to lose the Euro 2024 semi-final in Dortmund.

Xavi Simons had given the Netherlands the ideal start as he capitalised on a rare Declan Rice error to slam the ball home past Jordan Pickford with just seven minutes on the clock.

England were level soon after, however, after Zwayer pointed to the spot following a VAR check for a kick on Harry Kane by Denzel Dumfries.

The contentious call left the Dutch fuming as Kane dusted himself down to equalise, with Ollie Watkins then providing the moment to remember as he tucked away a fine, last-gasp finish to send England through to Sunday’s final against Spain.

Van Dijk, though, believes Zwayer knew he had made an error by the way he handled himself at the full-time whistle.

“I don’t know what to say. I don’t know if I should say something about this, I think it says it all that the referee went in quite quickly after the game, I had no time to shake his hand,” he told beIN Sports.

“But listen, it is what it is. The game is done. We lost and it’s very tough to take certain moments. You know, it was obvious that it should have gone our way. It didn’t but whatever the outcome it is always tough.

“I don’t know what to say, it’s just difficult. It’s difficult to accept this, I’m pulling in the emotions.

“It has been a very, very, very long year, a tough year, and we had a big dream, we felt like we could have achieved that as well here as a team but unfortunately it didn’t happen.”

Pushed on Zwayer’s repose, the Liverpool defender added: “They keep changing certain things, small changes that could have big impacts but maybe it’s a good thing that they could be held accountable as well?

“Let them come here and speak to you guys and explain themselves in certain moments, like we have to explain ourselves when we do something wrong as well.

“I think that might be something but I shouldn’t speak about others, we have to look at ourselves, and unfortunately we are out.”

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman insisted “in England they would not give such a penalty” while he felt his team were looking the most likely to win the game in the closing stages.

“I’m disappointed about the result,” he added.

Xavi Simons gave the Netherlands the lead in Dortmund (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“The match started really well for us and we scored. After that we had problems in midfield, allowing dangerous players like (Jude) Bellingham and (Phil) Foden into the game.

“We made changes, got some control back, and in the last 20 minutes we felt we were going to go on. But then the goal – a really good goal – right at the end.”

England will be the outsiders when they meet Spain in Berlin, despite reaching back to back European Championship finals.

Gareth Southgate’s side were beaten on penalties by Italy three years ago but former Southampton and Everton boss Koeman thinks they could go one better this time around.

“England played really well after going 1-0 down,” he added.

“Spain are playing great football, with exciting wingers and building from the back. But England are in the final and, while Spain are playing at a high level, maybe England can beat them. Why not?”

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