Chloe Kelly was the unlikely hero as hosts England won a UEFA Women’s EURO for the first time, defeating eight-time champions Germany 2-1 after extra time in front of a record 87,192 crowd at Wembley.
England stuck with the same XI as in every game on their run to the final, but there was a blow for Germany in the warm-up when Captain Alex Popp – who had scored in all five previous matches – picked up an injury, forcing Lea Schüller to step in.
The atmosphere was understandably frenzied in the packed Wembley stands early on, especially when Lauren Hemp’s cross was met by the head of Ellen White, though Merle Frohms was in the way.
The hosts were having slightly the better of the opening exchanges, forcing a succession of corners, but on 25 minutes Germany seemed set to take the lead from one of their own, only for Leah Williamson to scramble away Marina Hegering’s effort from point-blank range. White then raced to a Beth Mead cutback, but her strike sailed just over.
Striker Tabea Wassmuth arrived for Germany at half-time and she quickly had a chance, pouncing on a loose ball on the left and cutting in before being denied by Mary Earps. Lina Magull also went close and Sarina Wiegman responded by introducing Alessia Russo, who had already notched a record four goals as a substitute in the finals, along with her similarly impactful Manchester United club-mate Ella Toone.
Within seven minutes, Toone struck. Mead was off the pitch injured, leaving England temporarily with ten players, but Keira Walsh’s incisive through ball from deep set Toone free and – one on one with Frohms – she held her nerve with a dinked finish.
Germany responded and Magull smashed a shot onto the crossbar, Schüller hitting the rebound straight at a relieved, and grinning, Earps. Her relief was short lived, however, as Magull returned to beat Earps with 11 minutes left, a slick move culminating in Wassmuth providing the assist with a low centre, and the showpiece now destined for extra time.
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side called the tune for the first 15 minutes without seriously testing Earps. Still, England grew in stature once more and Frohms had to be alert to kick away Toone’s long-range effort as the final entered the second period of extra time.
Then came the moment England fans had dreamed of. Lucy Bronze helped Lauren Hemp’s corner into the danger area and Kelly prodded in at the second attempt for her first international goal.
Impeccable timing and a strike that Germany had no answer to as the hosts ran down the clock with ease to kick off the celebrations