They have done it! England have been crowned as the champions of Europe for the first time ever after they defeated Germany 2-1 at Wembley Stadium after a heart-racing 120 minutes of football to conclude an exceptional Euro 2022 tournament.
Substitute forward Chloe Kelly was the hero of the hour deep in extra time to score the goal that has brought immense pride to the nation, in a run throughout the tournament that had done exactly the same. The historic match inside the national stadium was witnessed by a record-breaking crowd of 87,192. It wasn’t England’s day in 1984 or 2009 but as they say, third time’s the charm as this group of Lionesses have written themselves into English footballing legend. And hopefully this is only the beginning.
To make this victory even more impressive, England have become the first team to beat Germany in the final at the European Championships. And to round off an excellent tournament for the Lionesses, Beth Mead left the tournament as the Golden Boot winner and the Player of the Tournament, while the team have taken the record for the most goals scored across a Euros finals (22) - taking the record from Germany (2009).
Ellen White had the first chance of the game as she latched onto a lovely flighted ball by Fran Kirby, but her header was straight at goalkeeper Merle Frohms. The Lionesses continued to look dangerous in the first half, looking a lot sharper than their opponents but their final product was lacking to make the most of their dominance. Defender Lucy Bronze had a headed effort denied as England continued to push to break the deadlock.
Germany did look dangerous from set-pieces, as they came close to snatching the lead from a corner which almost found its way into Mary Earps’ goal after a scramble. The game opened up a bit thereafter and White had another chance to open the scoring but England’s record goalscorer couldn’t keep her shot down. As both teams headed into the break, Germany would have been the happier of the two after navigating their way through the storm of the Lionesses attacks.
The Germans came out raring to go in the second half as their game plan changed. Rather than try to frustrate the Lionesses, they tried to create their own chances and Mary Earps was called into action a lot more in the first 10 minutes. She did well to gather an effort from Lina Magull from the left side of the box, but the midfielder should have done better with the time and space she had.
Sarina Wiegman once again made tactical substitutions that paid off as substitute Ella Toone replaced Kirby and within moments blew the roof off Wembley as she scored the opening goal of the game. The attacker timed her run to perfection to latch onto a perfectly-weighted ball by Keira Walsh before composing herself and lobbing the ball over Frohms and into the back of the net.
While most of the supporters inside the national stadium were still celebrating the goal, Germany almost came up with an immediate response. Magull made her way down the right and her rocketed effort hit the crossbar and Lea Schuller failed to capitalise with the rebound as she found the arms of Earps.
Germany continued to push in search of an equaliser and their determination paid off as Magull scored a delightful deft-touch finish from close-range, with Earps having no chance. The party atmosphere at Wembley quickly faded with just over 10 minutes left on the clock.
As the game couldn’t be settled in normal time, there was very little between the two sides in the first period of extra time. And as we entered the second half, many would have been dreading that penalties were once again on the horizon for England in a final. Step forward Kelly. As England had a corner from the right side, Germany failed to clear their lines and the attacker prodded the ball over the line as Wembley erupted. And when that final whistle blew the scenes inside the stadium will have undoubtedly reverberated up and down the country. Well done girls!