England won its first major women’s title dramatically, defeating Germany 2-1 in extra time at Wembley Stadium in the Euro 2022 Final.
A record audience of 87,192 witnessed Chloe Kelly’s maiden international goal propel the Lionesses to victory against the eight-time champion.
It was the first major international championship for the English women, who lost to Germany in the 2009 Euro final and to Sweden in 1984 final.
After three failures at the last hurdle, goals from Kelly and Ella Toone canceled out Lina Magull’s equalizer, capping off a spectacular tournament run. A thrilling journey to the final included a Euro-record 22 goals scored and only two conceded, an 8-0 the thrashing of world No. 11 Norway and a 4-0 thrashing of world No. 2 Sweden.
With Sarina Wiegman as head coach has never lost a European Championship game – or a game in charge of England – and Germany has never lost a Euro final, one record had to fall at Wembley, the site of the men’s team’s excruciating defeat at the same stage little over a year ago.
Despite only defeating Germany twice in their previous 27 encounters, Wiegman’s team battled to a hard-fought victory, extending the Dutch coach’s outstanding trend and igniting scenes of pure, unabashed pleasure at England’s home stadium.
That joy was epitomized by the match-winner’s celebrations, who gave one of the best post-match interviews when she talked to the BBC. Kelly ran off with the microphone after serenading fans with England’s national song, Neil Diamond’s classic “Sweet Caroline,” while bouncing about, yelling, and dancing.
“Honestly, it’s amazing,” she said. “This is what dreams are made of. As a young girl watching women’s football, this is amazing. Thank you to everyone who played a part in my rehab. I always believed I would be here.”
Captain Leah Williamson added: “I just can’t stop crying. We talk, we talk and we talk and we did it … this is the proudest moment of my life.
“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.”
The victory marked the culmination of a 13-year-long redemption arc for midfielder Jill Scott, the only member of the Lionesses squad to have featured in the 6-2 mauling suffered at the hands of Germany in 2009 final.
Subbed on towards the end of regular time, the 35-year-old became the first England player to have played in two major international finals.
“I actually can’t believe it,” Scott said. “We have an incredible group of staff. What a day. The young players have been fantastic, so grateful for every moment of this team.
“I don’t think I’m going to sleep this week!”
As compliments flooded in on social media, men’s captain Harry Kane tweeted his thanks, praising Toone in particular for his clever chipped goal that put England ahead in the second half.
“Unreal scenes at Wembley!! Massive congrats to the amazing Lionesses,” Kane said. “Ella Toone take a bow for that finish too.”
Queen Elizabeth II also sent a note of congratulations, praising the team for encouraging the next generation.
“The Championships and your performance in them have rightly won praise,” she said. “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 future generations. I hope that you will be as proud of the impact you have had on your sport as you are of the result today.”
Germany had emerged victorious in all eight of its previous appearances in the Euro final, most recently in 2013. The 2017 title was won by the Netherlands; the 2021 tournament was postponed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Germany experienced a setback before Sunday’s encounter when captain Alexandra Popp was forced to withdraw from the roster. Popp, who had two goals in the semifinal and was tied for the tournament lead with six overall, was substituted by Lea Schüller after suffering “a muscle issue” during warmups.
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“We were close, but England withstood the pressure. Congratulations to them,” Germany Coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg said. “We are very sad that we lost. … Alexandra Popp would have triggered something against our opponents with her presence. But it just didn’t work out.”
“It’s such a privilege to be part of this,” England midfielder Jill Scott said. “The younger players have been fantastic — they play with freedom; they love the game of football. The celebrations are going to be big.”