They sing it at every major tournament and other than in 1966, football never came back home for England. Until today. 87,000 plus at Wembley could finally sing that “football’s coming home” as England beat Germany at the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro final thanks to goals by Ella Toone and the extra-time winner by Chloe Kelly.
England had been one of the best teams in the tournament, making easy work of their group to begin with and then overcoming shaky starts in the knock-out stages. They brushed aside Norway by eight goals in Group A, regrouped to beat Spain 2-1 in the quarter finals and after surviving a scare in the semi finals, swept aside Sweden to face the other in-form team at the European Championships; Germany.
Everyone who previewed this final expected a tough battle between two teams who could defend very well and also attacked brilliantly as well. Beth Mead had been on fire for England with both goals and assists while Alex Popp had been having an Indian summer of a tournament in Germany. However, neither of those players ended up being the keys for their teams.
Instead, Popp was ruled out during warms ups for the final, being replaced by Lea Schuller and although Mead played, she was substituted in the second half for Chloe Kelly.
The first half saw two big chances for each side pass them by as both teams looked to nullify each others strengths. Germany came closest first as one of their corner kicks almost got bundled over the line while Ellen White had a great chance at the other end to open the scoring. Neither side could break the deadlock and instead, we have more fouls and yellow cards than goals.
Both teams have used substitutions to great effect this past month especially England. Those substitutions proved to pivotal as the game wore on.
Alessia Russo and Ella Toone came on for White and Fran Kirby very early in the second half as Germany started to press England very high up and succeeding in doing so. Those substitutions to counter that press proved to be exactly what was needed as England found the first goals in the 62nd minute.
ELLA TOONE SUBS ON AND PUTS ENGLAND AHEAD WITHIN MINUTES WITH A CHIP OVER THE KEEPER!!!! pic.twitter.com/UN6BE2lG7c— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 31, 2022
As Germany pressed high once again, Keira Walsh (who ended up being the Player of the Match) found some space for the first time all game and played in a great pass for Ella Toone to race on to. The Manchester United striker did just that and produced a wonderful chip over Merle Frohms, much to the delight of the fans and her teammates.
Germany were undeterred though and found their first goal of the game through a substitute too. Sydney Lohmann managed to drift out wide, complete a great touch to the bring the ball down and then combined with Tabea Waßmuth to pick out Lina Magull’s run inside the area. Magull made no mistake from six yards out and it was game on.
GERMANY RIGHT BACK IN IT— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 31, 2022
MAGULL TIES IT! pic.twitter.com/n1wyOsBETx
As time wore on, England seemed to be losing steam and not being able to keep possession as well as Germany did but that determination and luck that had seen them through this entire tournament came to the forefront as they kept themselves in the game until extra time.
With a few minutes to recalibrate, Sarina Wiegman managed to galvanise her team once again and with Chloe Kelly in particular, England found renewed confidence in themselves and their abilities. Kelly had constantly been whipping up the fans every time she got to the sidelines, asking them to push her and her teammates on with their support so when she popped up with the winner, no one could begrudge her that moment.
CHLOE KELLY PUTS IT AWAY IN EXTRA TIME FOR ENGLAND!! pic.twitter.com/jhzw8Lyu1l— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 31, 2022
Keira Walsh and Lucy Bronze in particular deserve a mention as well. Both of these players may not have as influential as normal for England but when they were called upon, they performed their tasks with everything in them while also keeping composure in and around their penalty area. Bronze shut down the right hand side for England, making sure that any German player on that side was not going to get the better of her and while Walsh may have not had as much space as she would like, when the moment arrived she was there to provide the pass for Toone’s goal. Beth Mead had all the headlines coming into this final but when she faltered, her teammates stepped up to ensure an unforgettable tournament for themselves and all those who had supported them from the very beginning.
Some may say that England have rode their luck at times throughout this tournament and even during this final but at the end of it all, they have a very talented and deep team that was fully focused on winning this in front of their families and friends at Wembley. It was a deserved win for them and they can finally state that “football’s come home”.