England’s women’s football team have won their first major trophy after beating Germany 2-1 in extra time in the sellout Euro 2022 final.
The teams went into half-time level at 0-0 after an even first 45 minutes that saw a handful of half chances. But just after the hour mark, substitute Ella Toone latched on to a long ball from Keira Walsh and fired England ahead with a delicate lob over the German goalkeeper.
Germany rattled the post moments later and with 10 minutes to go, went level with a well-worked move finished off by midfielder Lina Magull.
The game then drifted into extra time, with both teams looking tired and stretched. But with penalties 10 minutes away, Chloe Kelly was first to a loose ball following an England corner, and stabbed home from two yards out.
“Honestly it’s amazing,” Kelly told the BBC just after the final whistle. “This is what dreams are made of.”
The success of the Lionesses has gripped the host nation, with more than 11mn people watching the semi-final. Germany’s progress has also attracted huge domestic TV audiences, with more than 12mn tuning in to their semi-final win against France on Wednesday.
Attendances at matches have also broken records — surpassing 480,000 during the semi-finals, more than double the number who went to games at Euro 2019 in the Netherlands. The 87,192 who watched the final inside Wembley also made history, marking the largest attendance for any Euro match — men’s or women’s.
“What the @Lionesses have just done is amazing and so damned bloody hard to do. A seismic moment for Sport in this country! Well done to you all,” former England defender Gary Neville said on Twitter.
The Lionesses’ win is the first major trophy for English football since the men’s team’s own extra-time win at the 1966 World Cup — also against Germany, also at Wembley.
Sunday’s contest was a rerun of the Euro 2009 final, in which Germany thrashed England 6-2. In the years since, money has poured into the English game, with the Women’s Super League launching in 2011 and turning professional in 2018.
England went into the final unbeaten in 19 games under Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman, having scored 104 goals and conceded just four. The team has looked confident throughout the tournament. The Lionesses breezed through the group stages, including an 8-0 win over Norway, but needed extra time to edge out Spain 2-1 in the quarter final.
However, they booked their spot in the final with a 4-0 thumping of Sweden, Europe’s highest-ranked side, in front of more than 28,000 at Bramall Lane in Sheffield.
Wiegman has now won back to back Euro championships, first with the Netherlands, now with England. Asked after the match by the BBC what her secret was, Wiegman replied: “I don’t have any secrets. I’m very open. I don’t think I realise what’s going on. I need some time.”
“Football has come home! A stunning victory by the @Lionesses,” tweeted Boris Johnson, UK prime minister. “Football pitches across the country will be filled as never before by girls and women inspired by your triumph.”
Germany’s hopes of scoring a ninth Euro title were dealt a significant blow just minutes before kick-off when captain and top scorer Alexandra Popp was ruled out after picking up an injury during the warm-up. Popp, 31, had scored in every one of Germany’s games at Euro 2022.