Kelly inspires England to historic Euro ’22 win

Football

England ended their wait for a major trophy as Chloe Kelly’s extra-time winner handed them a 2-1 win against Germany in the women’s European Championship final.

Watched on by a record-breaking crowd of 87,192 at Wembley Stadium, England went ahead through substitute Ella Toone before being pegged back by Germany’s Lina Magull.

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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 tournament triumph and England’s first for men or women since the 1966 World Cup. Lauren Hemp’s corner fell to the Manchester City forward, who poked past Germany keeper Merle Frohms at the second attempt. After a brief moment of confusion, Kelly ripped off her shirt and celebrated wildly.

England captain Leah Williamson called the title the “proudest moment of my life” in emotional post-match scenes at Wembley.

“I just can’t stop crying,” Williamson said. “We talk, we talk and we talk and we finally done it. You know what, the kids are alright. This is the proudest moment of my life.

“Listen, the legacy of this tournament is the change in society. The legacy of this team is winners and that is the journey. I love every single one of you, I’m so proud to be English. I’m trying so hard not to swear.”

Consistency had been key for England in their run to the final, so it was no surprise when manager Sarina Wiegman named the same starting XI for a sixth consecutive match — the first team to do that in men’s or women’s Euro history.

Germany were rocked when their top scorer, Alexandra Popp, was pulled from the starting lineup before a ball had been kicked after suffering muscular problems in the warm-up. She was replaced by Lea Schuller.

That gave England a boost, and they almost had the perfect start early on, when Fran Kirby curled in a cross for Ellen White that the Lionesses’ record scorer headed straight at Frohms.

Germany almost went ahead in the 25th minute after a goalmouth scramble from a Magull corner. Germany defender Marina Hegering threatened from close range, before England keeper Mary Earps claimed to see off the danger. Wiegman’s side were relieved when a VAR check for a handball came to nothing.

England finished a fractious first half strongly and could have gone in front in the 38th minute, when Beth Mead found White with a cut-back into the area, but the striker fired over with a left-footed shot as she stretched to make contact.

With the momentum shifting toward the hosts, Germany manager Martina Voss-Tecklenburg made an early substitution at half-time, bringing on Tabea Wassmuth for Jule Brand.

That change gave Germany renewed purpose, and they fired a warning shot when Magull flashed a good chance wide of Earps’ right post in the 50th minute after a clever turn in the box.

Wiegman sensed danger and duly sent on her two super substitutes, Toone and Alessia Russo. And it was Toone who fired England ahead in style in the 62nd minute, running onto a fine through ball from Keira Walsh before lofting a finish over Frohms to send Wembley into delirium.

Germany rose to the challenge, and they nearly equalised when Magull darted into the box in the 66th minute. Her right-footed shot clattered off the crossbar, before Schuller failed to turn in on the rebound.

Magull had been Germany’s liveliest player, and she finally made the difference in the 79th minute. Wassmuth sent a low cross into the area, and Magull side-footed home at the near post to temporarily silence England fans.

Frohms turned away Toone’s shot from distance with her feet in extra-time, before Kelly sent England into dreamland again with her winner.

“It doesn’t seem real,” Toone said. “I’m buzzing my head off. Honestly the best moment of my career, best moment of my life. I’m so proud to be a part of this group.”

Their win, over a country that have previously defeated so many England sides — both men and women — also earned a message of congratulations from Queen Elizabeth.

“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,” the queen wrote.

“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.”

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.

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