England edge Germany to win the Euros - a victory somewhat written in the stars for the Lionesses?
Updated: Aug 3
England 2-1 Germany (AET)
Toone (62’) Magull (79’)
The Lionesses won their first ever major tournament in front of a record 87,192 at Wembley.
They had a huge opportunity in front of them with this tournament, they have taken it with every hand they have between them.
England held their composure and edged out Germany. There were some very ropey moments, before Chloe Kelly poked in the winner in the second half of extra time, and sent most of the country into hysteria.
There is an endless list of factors that need to come together to win a tournament. To try to legitimately simplify this achievement into being some sort of fateful happening, would be ludicrous.
But, you do need things to fall into place, and everything that needed to fall into place for England, did just that.
Popp injured in the warm-up, leaving Germany not looking themselves.
Klara Bühl was already out for Germany due to COVID. In the warm up Alexandra Popp, Germany’s chief threat and one of the players of the tournament, aggravated an injury. Nightmare for Germany.
Lea Schüller, who replaced Popp, is also very good, but is very different - and hadn’t scored 6 goals in the tournament.
Don’t know whether Germany were hungover by this late news, it was expected that they would come flying out of the blocks and get at England.
They didn’t - they unusually looked to be showing England too much respect.
For all of England’s possession in the early stages, they didn’t really create any chances. Ellen White had a couple but she didn’t really trouble Merle Frohms.
England get away with a goal line scramble.
Germany had the best chance of the half, the ball being scrambled off the line, after Mary Earps had a bit of a panic dealing with a corner.
Clearly the wind was blowing the right way for England because how on earth that didn’t go in - and there wasn’t a more in depth look at a possible handball - we’ll never know.
Germany grew into the game, and it felt that England hadn’t taken advantage of a below par Germany, who were inevitably going to get going at some point.
The substitutions pay off again.
Englands usual substitutes came on, Alessia Russo and Ella Toone first, for White and Kirby who struggled to have an impact.
Russo didn’t quite have the same effect she had been having - to be fair she’s set an astronomical standard.
Toone did though, striking first for England on 62 minutes.
England were temporarily down to 10 as Beth Mead had left the pitch with a knock and was yet to be replaced by Chloe Kelly. Alessia Russo briefly shifted out to the right to cover.
About a minute later, the excellent Keira Walsh played a ball over the top, on a plate to find Toone’s run, right through the heart of Germany’s centre halves - the space which Russo had just vacated.
Toone controlled and produced a quality chip over Frohms - which eventually hit the back of the net, after what felt like about 20 minutes.
The game stretched, Germany started to flex.
Generally, when you score - particularly in a final - you want to play the game at your pace. This wasn’t happening for England.
Germany were dictating and the gaps were growing. They hit the bar, before equalising with just over 10 minutes remaining.
It was nice move down their right hand side, what you’ve come to expect from Germany, finished by Lina Magull from close range.
Although - as nice as it was - it could have been defender rather a lot better. Rachel Daly was out of position, Georgia Stanway didn’t track the run of Magull and Millie Bright likely could’ve stopped the shot if she wasn’t so laboured in getting across.
It all got a increasingly tense from here in.
Chloe Kelly completes the fairytale.
England dragged themselves to extra time - but they looked absolutely knackered.
They were - just - keeping it solid enough defensively, but it was clear that they were likely not going to create much from open play.
They needed to create one opportunity from a set piece - and take it.
They did. A corner in the 110th minute.
England charged into Germany’s zonal system. Bronze got the first contact and the ball fell to Chloe Kelly, who was lingering in the 6 yard box.
Kelly held off the defenders, stabbing the ball across the line at the second attempt and doing her best 1999 Brandi Chastain - hopefully the aftermath of this victory is just as seismic as that one was.
In 14 months, Kelly’s gone from tearing her ACL to scoring the winner in a home Euros at Wembley - which was her first England goal. It had to be.
Bedlam. Hysteria. Chaos.
All of the above and more for the full time scenes. The emotion was more than palpable.
In the words of the very quotable England captain, Leah Williamson - who didn’t put a foot wrong throughout the whole tournament - this is “not the end of a journey it is the beginning of one.”
England rose to the occasion and kept their composure, playing exciting, engaging football guided by an exceptional international manager. All of them absolutely deserve their success.
Winning was by no means easy, but with all of the investment and effort from the FA in recent times, this is where England should be.
This has to be a watershed moment.
It remains to be seen what is to come.