Saturday, August 6, 2022

England secure historic first European title with 2-1 victory over Germany

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Chloe Kelly’s first goal of the tournament seals dramatic victory in extra time after Lina Magull equalized super-sub Ella Toone’s superb opener, writes Katherine Lucas at Wembley

WEMBLEY – Championed by a Nation, Champions of Europe. A feeling as glorious as Chloe Kelly’s shirt swirled around her head as she sped to Sarina Wiegman. As cute as Ella Toone’s chip.

England 2-1 (aet) Germany (Toone 62′, Kelly 111′ | Magull 79′)

Wiegman likes to speak of “courage”. Imagine the steel in Kelly as England feel broken and racked through the pangs of exhaustion. The ball falls to her for her first international goal ever.

Think of the ice in Toone’s veins. The 22-year-old Manchester United midfielder, barely a year into her Lionesses career and just minutes after coming on from the bench, watches Keira Walsh’s spray-sprayed pass on the pitch. Let it go, let it go A touch, then the pause. The final execution, from the toes, right where you can feel the power of the shot in the boot, past Merle Frohms.

Each of these lionesses will have been told countless times in their lives that nobody cares about their sport, that they have played on almost empty pitches and have traveled around in minibuses at great expense and time. That was the reason. Say it again: England are European champions. And Wiegman is a double champion. Find a coach who thinks he can beat her at Women’s Euros and you’ve found a liar.

Wembley were still rocking from Toone’s strike when Lina Magull, hovering dangerously close to the balloon like a pin, rattled the post. Germany’s goal was approaching – Magull stepped forward, England exposed through a well-known weakness down the left flank to give Tabea Wassmuth space to equalize. It was also a finish by Magull.

But this was England’s day. 87,192 – the largest crowd in European Women’s Championship history – cheered them on to victory, supported by millions at home. What did Wiegman do to this country of cynics?

For some, this will have been the first step on this journey; You will not have been disappointed. It was grim, Lena Oberdorf was more guilty of bringing down Fran Kirby than Georgia Stanway for Sara Dabritz’s nudge that drew both a yellow card and an angry reaction from the offended Bayern Munich midfielder.

They said every woman at Wembley would be a hero regardless of the result, but referee Kateryna Monzul didn’t feel like one.

England didn’t want to talk about what it meant to face an old rival. Nevertheless, they offered the needle the showpiece it deserved. At least we were spared another 56-year debate over whether the ball was over the line in a Wembley final between those nations when Ellen White tried unsuccessfully to shove Frohm’s lob into her goal after Lucy Bronze’s lob.

So most of the German chances were a bit poor. Leah Williamson somehow got into a goalmouth scramble from a corner so chaotically that Mary Earps couldn’t help but laugh when the ball finally landed in her arms. Dabritz had already tried the more glamorous route, Bronze summoned up all her courage to produce a block so instinctive it almost brushed her head.

If you’re an England fan, it’s understandable that the stars never align. But Germany will also have felt it in the moments just before kick-off, when Alexandra Popp appeared with a gold jersey over the green of her change jerseys, who was ruled out with a muscle injury. It was those expanding chances, those glimpses crafted so effectively by Germany’s wingers that she was missed.

Her nemesis for the Golden Boot, Beth Mead, had an afternoon that also ended in an early elimination. As the temperature rose, Mead fell to the ground just moments after Lea Schuller dropped a foot on Earps in a one-on-one, but came out of the challenge worse.

From the introduction of Alessia Russo – which was met with deafening cheers – to the switch between Mead and Kelly, England will always instill fear in their opponents, even a seemingly unshakable German side. Even one who has won this tournament eight times. You have been here before and will no doubt be here again.

But never has a final had the prestige of this, the most spectacular day in the history of women’s football in this country. There are too many names to list, but as the architects who made England’s final push possible always said, ‘build it and they will come’. A fitting opportunity to cap a summer that changed the game forever.

England heroine Chloe Kelly has said she is living the dream after firing her country to Euro 2022 glory.
Kelly came off the bench and scored a winner in the 110th minute to give the Lionesses a 2-1 win over Germany in the final at Wembley.

After Lina Magull canceled out Ella Toone’s regular-time opener, the Manchester City striker fired from close range and caused euphoria at the National Stadium as England won their first major tournament.

Kelly was more interested in singing Sweet Caroline than answering questions in her Flash TV interview, but said it was her dream to grow up.

“Oh my god look at them it’s amazing thank you to every single person who has supported us,” she said on the BBC, gesturing to the crowd in the background. “This is unreal… Sweet Caroline!

“It’s amazing, thank you everyone, that’s what dreams are made of, watching women’s football as a young girl. Wow, that’s amazing.”

Kelly’s story is made even more memorable by the fact that she only returned from a severe cruciate ligament injury in April.

She added: “Thank you for everyone who has been a part of my rehab. I always thought I would be here, but to be here and get the win, wow. These girls are incredible.

“This is incredible, I just want to celebrate now.”

England’s first success was spearheaded by Sarina Wiegman, who has now become back-to-back European champions after her success with the Netherlands in 2017.

The Dutchwoman said: “We won the cup. It’s incredible. It’s incredible.

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