Chloe Kelly’s extra-time goal saw England beat Germany 2-1 to win Euro 2022 in sensational fashion at a packed Wembley Stadium.
In front of a record crowd of 87,192, Kelly’s 110th-minute winner secured England the country’s first major international success since the men’s side won the World Cup in 1966.
“Today is the proudest day of my life,” captain Leah Williamson said after lifting the trophy. “The legacy of this tournament is a change in society. We have brought everyone together and we have people at the matches. We want people to come to the WSL matches, but the legacy of this team is the winners , and this is the beginning of a journey.”
In a final for the ages, Ella Toone cut the Lionesses up front with a stunning lob just after the hour mark after a scoreless but entertaining first half.
A superb pass from Keira Walsh set up her teammate, wrapping the ball around the German defense and into the path of Toone. She spotted keeper Merle Frohms off her line and went for the lob, sending the ball past the German striker to send Wembley into rapture.
But eight-time champions Germany, who lost top scorer Alexandra Popp to injury minutes before kick-off, weren’t going to be down for long as Lina Magull equalized in the 79th minute. Sydney Lohmann found Tabea Wassmuth in the box, the latter’s cross being returned by midfield.
The first period of extra time was a case of caution, with neither side wanting to make a mistake, but England made the breakthrough with 10 minutes to play. Germany failed to clear a corner, Kelly’s own shot returning to his feet inside the penalty area. She was there again to overtake Frohms and win England their first major trophy.
It was a cautious start in front of a record crowd at Wembley, but England started the best. In four minutes, Fran Kirby sent in a cross, met by Ellen White, but her header was directly on Frohms.
Germany had their best half-time chance in the 25th minute. Georgia Stanway inadvertently nodded from a German corner as the Lionesses rushed to clear, before Mary Earps pounced on the loose ball.
England could have taken the lead just before the break. Beth Mead picked White in the middle, but the striker ducked as she kicked him, sending the ball flying over the bar.
Germany should have taken the lead five minutes after the break. Magull pushed the ball just wide of the post after finding himself some space, before Toone fired England just after the hour mark.
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side should have equalized soon after. Magull again with the shot to test England, but his curling effort could only find the post. Earps was there to grab the rebound then, but she couldn’t stop Magull from leveling with 11 minutes left.
It was a classic extra period – neither team wanted to give anything. An agonizing penalty shootout against the Germans seemed to be on the cards.
But then Kelly – aged just 24 – drove the winner home to send Wembley into overdrive, with England seeing the game to write their names in history.
Wiegman: It was a fighting game, but who cares?
Sarina Wiegman, England women’s manager, told the BBC:
“We won the cup. It’s just unbelievable. I don’t even remember what you 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 get better every day, that’s what you have to do.
“The players wanted to do it together and we agreed on a few points regarding behavior, and it wasn’t just words.
“We lived through it, and here is the result. With Germany it was so close, and it was a bit of a fight match, but who cares? We are European champions.
“I told the players that we needed five more minutes because we had already broken two barriers against Spain and we had to start again for 15 minutes.
“I have no secrets. I just need some time to figure out what’s going on. The trophy is quite heavy – I would know!”
Mead wins Golden Boot and Player of the Tournament
Although Mead failed to 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 before the final, but the Germany captain suffered the injury in the warm-up, seeing Mead earn the accolade after bagging five assists during the tournament. Popp had none for himself.
Alessia Russo also finished in third place with four goals, including that stunning backheel against Sweden that will be talked about for years.
Mead was also crowned Player of the Tournament by a select UEFA panel, marking a stunning turnaround after her omission from Team Britain’s Olympic squad just a year ago.
“I can’t believe it, sometimes football brings you down, but bouncing back is the best way and that’s what we did,” she said.
“I’m speechless, I can’t take it all in, I’m still in shock. I can’t believe we won it, I just can’t, it’s crazy. I’m so, so proud of this team. I love this team and I love this country.”
Germany’s Lena Oberdorf also won the Young Player of the Tournament trophy, having won Euro 2022 aged just 20.
Reaction to Lionesses victory
The Queen“My warmest congratulations and those of my family all go to you on winning the European Women’s Football Championships. This is a significant achievement for the whole team, including your coaching staff. The Championships and your performance in those Championships have rightly won praise.” However, your success goes far beyond the trophy you so deserved. You have all set an example that will inspire girls and women today, and for generations to come. I hope 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 stuff, possession of the ball in the first half was more on the English side. They put pressure on us. They got a few free kicks, we missed sometimes of bravery.
“We managed to have a few attacks which were good. I think 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 away. Why didn’t the referee look at that? It kinda hurts.
“We wanted to play bravely to score the first goal and play with high pressure. When we had more ball, we conceded the goal. In extra time, the 2-1 was a bit unlucky. Maybe the penalty would have had to decide it.
“England are a deserved champion. They win hard like that and look at the support they have. If you score two goals against Germany, you are a deserved champion. Congratulations to them.
“A lot of energy and pride in my team. It was incredibly loud. It will help us in the future. We gave our all on the pitch, it didn’t all work out, but we gave sweat, fight and energy. It’s very sad, you can “I can’t find the right words to say it to the team. I just have to process this. We came to win the match, but we didn’t succeed. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a different feeling about it.
“Seconds sound pretty good, but it hurts a bit. Only one team could win today, we might need a bit more time to digest that.”