England ended their big title hunt as overtime winner Chloe Kelly handed them a 2-1 victory over Germany in the Women’s European Championship final.
Watched by a record crowd of 87,192 spectators at Wembley, England advanced through substitute Ella Tone before being pushed back by Germany’s Lena Magul.
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But Kelly provided the perfect finish for England after coming on as a substitute, scoring in the 110th minute to give the Lionesses their first major win of the tournament and England’s first men’s or women’s victory since the 1966 World Cup. A corner kick from Lauren Hemp fell to the Manchester City striker, who stabbed past the Germany goalkeeper. Merle Froms on the second try. After a brief period of confusion, Kelly rips her shirt off and celebrates wildly.
England captain Leah Williamson described the title as “the proudest moment of my life” in emotional scenes after the match at Wembley.
“I can’t stop crying,” Williamson said. “We talk and talk and talk and we finally did it. You know what, the kids are okay. This is the proudest moment of my life.”
“Listen, the legacy of this tournament is a change in society. The legacy of this team is the winners and this is the journey. I love each of you, I’m so proud to be an Englishman. I try hard not to swear.”
Consistency was key for England on their way to the final, so it came as no surprise when coach Sarina Weigman picked the same starting lineup for the sixth consecutive game – the first team to do so in men’s or women’s European Championship history.
Germany was shaken when top scorer Alexandra Pope withdrew from the starting line-up before kicking the ball after suffering from muscle problems in the warm-up period. She was replaced by Leah Schuller.
That gave England a boost, and they almost had a perfect start early on, when Fran Kirby crossed Ellen White that the Lioness top scorer headed straight into Froomes.
Germany almost took the lead in the 25th minute after defending the goal from Magul’s corner kick. German defender Marina Hegering threatened from close range, before England goalkeeper Mary Earps claimed to avoid the danger. Wigman’s team was relieved when the VAR referee was unable to handle a handball.
England finished a tough first half strong and could have gone ahead in the 38th minute, when Beth Meade found Wyatt with a cut in the area, but the striker fired with a left-footed shot as it stretched to connect.
With the momentum turning towards the hosts, Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg made an early substitution at halftime, carrying Tapia Wassmuth in favor of Jules Brand.
The change gave Germany a renewed goal, and they fired a cautionary shot when Magul fired a good chance past Arps’ right post in the 50th minute after a clever spin in the penalty area.
Wigmann sensed the danger and duly dispatched her super substitutes, Ton and Alicia Russo. And it was Toone who put England ahead in style in the 62nd minute, running on a fine pass from Keira Walsh before chipping the ball over Frohms to send Wembley to a rave.
Germany rose to the challenge, and they almost equalized when Magul rushed into the penalty area in the 66th minute. Her right-footed shot hit the crossbar, before Schuler failed to turn around on the rebound.
Magull was Germany’s most energetic player, finally making the difference in the 79th minute. Wassmuth sent a low cross into the box, and Magull headed home at the near post to temporarily silence the England crowd.
Froomes parried Toone’s shot from a distance with her feet in overtime, before Kelly sent England to dreamland again with the winner.
“It doesn’t look real,” Ton said. “I’m banging my head. Honestly the best moment of my career, the best moment of my life. I’m so proud to be a part of this group.”
Their victory, over a country that had previously defeated several England teams – both men and women – also earned him a congratulatory message from Queen Elizabeth.
The Queen wrote: “Your success far exceeds your well-deserved trophy. You have all set an example that will inspire girls and women today, and generations to come.”
“I hope you are as proud of the impact you have had on your sport as you are of the result today.”
Information from Reuters contributed to this report.