By News Team
2nd August 2022
Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses have done it! England are European champions for the first time! As the final whistle blew on an incredibly tense afternoon at Wembley Stadium, over 87,000 fans roared to the London skies and millions more celebrated around the country.
On 31st July 2022, football came home – but how did the Lionesses pull off this remarkable victory? Here, we pick out our four key moments of where the Euro 2022 final was won.
Alexandra Popp misses out
This was the battle for the Golden Boot as well as for the Euro 2022 trophy: England’s Beth Mead v Germany’s Alexandra Popp, with both forwards deadlocked on six goals heading into the final.
England, though, were handed a major boost just minutes before kick-off, with the news that Popp had suffered an injury in the warm-up and would miss the game. It was a devastating blow for Popp who had lit up the tournament by scoring in all five of Germany’s games up to that point. The Lionesses, though, may well have felt their spirits lifted by the absence of Germany’s key striker.
Walsh’s wizardry overcomes Oberdorf
So many Lionesses have grabbed the headlines at Euro 2022: Mead’s Golden Boot bid, Georgia Stanway’s stunner against Spain, Alessia Russo’s backheel, Millie Bright’s dependable defending and Leah Williamson’s cool captaincy. However, given the tight bonds between the whole squad, it was fitting that an unsung player got her dues on Sunday: Keira Walsh.
The Man City midfielder was simply sublime at Wembley, pitted in direct competition with the Young Player of the Tournament, the outstanding Lena Oberdorf. Walsh’s movement allowed her to elude Oberdorf at crucial moments, not least the phenomenal assist for Ella Toone’s opening goal. Walsh was everywhere and deservedly named Player of the Match.
Sarina’s substitutes strike gold
One of the defining factors of the success of this England team has been its strength in depth – and how manager Sarina Wiegman has used it. Wiegman named the same starting XI for all six games, but was quick to deploy her bench to turn a game. Ella Toone and Alessia Russo combined to salvage the quarter-final against Spain, with Russo alone bagging four goals through the tournament.
The depth of the Lionesses’ squad was no more evident than in the final, with both of England’s goalscorers coming from the bench. Toone had been on the Wembley pitch for barely five minutes when she raced onto Walsh’s pass and casually chipped the ball over Merle Frohms in the Germany goal. Then, in the 110th minute, it was another sub – Chloe Kelly – who found space from a set-piece to stab in the goal that forever changed the story of women’s football in this country. Kelly’s wild shirt-twirling celebration is sure to go down in history.
Lionesses keep their cool under pressure
There were still 10 minutes to go when Kelly gave England the lead – and no doubt plenty of fans spent the remaining time anxiously checking their watches. This was Germany, who always win, and England, who have never won. Plus, Germany had come from behind once already in the match – surely a nervy finish was in store?
Tell that to these Lionesses. Those final minutes were a masterclass in protecting a lead, with so much time spent by Germany’s penalty area that the opposition barely entered England’s half, never mind created a chance to level. At the last, Germany launched a free-kick towards England’s box. A white shirt headed it away, the referee blew the whistle for the final time, and the celebrations began. Who knows when they might end?