Chloe Kelly’s extra-time goal saw England beat Germany 2-1 and win Euro 2022 in sensational fashion at a packed-out Wembley Stadium.
Kelly’s 110th-minute winner gave England its first significant international victory since the men’s team won the World Cup in 1966 in front of a record-breaking 87,192 spectators.
“This is the proudest day of my life,” said captain Leah Williamson after lifting the trophy. “The legacy of this tournament is a change in society. We’ve brought everyone together and we’ve got people at games. We want people to come to WSL games but the legacy of this team is winners, and it’s the start of a journey.”
After a goalless but thrilling first half, Ella Toone gave the Lionesses the lead with a spectacular lob shortly after the hour mark in a match for the ages.
With a brilliant pass that curved the ball around the German defense and into Toone’s path, Keira Walsh set up her teammate. She went for the lob when she saw German goalie Merle Frohms off her line and chipped the ball past him to send Wembley into raptures.
But eight-time champions Germany who lost their top scorer Alexandra Popp to injury minutes before kick-off were not to be down for long as Lina Magull equalized in the 79th minute. Sydney Lohmann found Tabea Wassmuth inside the area, with the latter’s cross turned home by the midfielder.
With neither team willing to make a mistake during the first extra time period, England finally broke the tie with 10 minutes left. In the six-yard box, Kelly’s own shot rebounded to her feet after Germany failed to clear a corner. She was present once more to defeat Frohms and secure England’s first big victory.
How England won Euro 2022
It was a cagey start in front of a record-breaking crowd at Wembley, but England started the brighter. Inside four minutes, Fran Kirby sent in a cross, met by Ellen White, but her header was straight at Frohms.
Germany had their best chance of the half in the 25th minute. Georgia Stanway inadvertently nodded on a Germany corner, with the Lionesses scrambling to clear, before Mary Earps pounced on the loose ball.
England could have taken the lead just before the break. Beth Mead picked out White in the middle, but the striker was leaning as she hit it, sending the ball rising over the bar.
Germany should have taken the lead five minutes after the break. Magull poked the ball just wide of the post after finding herself a slither of space, before Toone fired England ahead just after the hour.
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side should have equalized soon after. Magull again with the shot to test England, but her curling effort could only find the post. Earps was then there to scoop up the rebound, but she could not stop Magull from equalizing with 11 minutes to play.
It was a classic extra-time period neither side wanted to give anything away. An agonizing penalty shootout against the Germans looked to be on the cards.
But then Kelly aged just 24 years old scrambled home the winner to send Wembley into overdrive, with England seeing out the game to write their names into history.
Wiegman: It was a fighting game, but who cares?
England Women manager Sarina Wiegman told BBC:
“We won the cup. It is just unbelievable. I don’t even remember what you’ve asked me! I don’t know what’s going on!
On what makes this team so resilient: “Do you have half an hour? If you really want to become better every single day, that is what you need to do.
“The players have wanted to do it together and we agreed on a couple of things about behavior, and it wasn’t just words.
“We lived it, and this is the result. With Germany it was so tight, and it was a bit of a fighting game, but who cares? We’re European champions.
“I told the players we needed five more minutes as we’d already broken two barriers against Spain and we had to do it again for 15 minutes.
“I don’t have any secrets. I just need some time to figure out what’s going on. The trophy is pretty heavy I would know!”
Mead wins Golden Boot and Player of the Tournament
Although Mead did not score in the Wembley final, she added two personal accolades to her cabinet, winning the Golden Boot and Player of the Tournament.
The winger had been level with Alexandra Popp on six goals heading into the final, but Germany captain was injured in the warm-up, seeing Mead take the accolade having notched up five assists during the tournament. Popp had none for her part.
Alessia Russo also finished in third place with four goals including that stunning backheel against Sweden that will be talked about for years to come.
Mead was also crowned Player of the Tournament by a selected UEFA panel, marking a stunning turnaround after her omission from the Team GB Olympic squad just a year ago.
“I can’t believe it, sometimes football puts you down but bouncing back is the best way and that is what we have done,” she said.
“I am speechless, I can’t take it all in, I am still in shock. I can’t believe we’ve won it, I just can’t, it’s mad. I am so, so proud of this team. I love this team and I love this country.”
Germany’s Lena Oberdorf also took home the Young Player of the Tournament trophy, having had a breakout Euro 2022 at the age of just 20 years old.
Reaction to the Lionesses’ victory
The Queen: “My warmest congratulations, and those of my family, go to you all on winning the European Women’s Football Championships. It is a significant achievement for the entire team, including your support staff. The Championships and your performance in them have rightly won praise. However, your success goes far beyond the trophy you have so deservedly earned. You have all set an example that will be an inspiration for girls and women today, and for future generations. It is my hope that you will be as proud of the impact you have had on your sport as you are of the result today.”
Voss-Tecklenburg: England are deserved champions
Germany head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg:
“Let’s differentiate between football and feelings. Let’s start with the footballing things, first half ball possession was more on the English side. They put pressure on us. They got a few free-kicks, we lacked courage sometimes.
“We managed to have some attacks which was good. I’m thinking about the situation at 0-0, there was a clear situation in the box which was a clear handball. VAR looked at it but didn’t give it. Why didn’t the referee look at it? That hurt a little.
“We wanted to play courageously to get the first goal and play with a high press. When we actually had the ball more, we conceded the goal. In extra-time the 2-1 was just a bit unlucky. Maybe the penalty should have decided it.
“England are deserved champions. They win hard like that and look at the support they have got. If you score two goals against Germany you are deserved champions. Congratulations to them.
“Lots of energy and pride in my team. It was incredibly loud. This will help us in the future. We gave our all on the pitch, not everything worked, but we gave sweat, fight and energy. That’s very sad, you can’t find the right words to tell the team. I just have to process that. We came to win the game, but we didn’t manage that. Maybe tomorrow I will have a different feeling on it.
“Runners-up sounds pretty good, but it hurts a little bit. Only one team could win today, we might need a little more time to digest that.”