Sarina Wiegman‘s side was unchanged again and after a slow start, they delivered a fine performance to secure their place at the final at Wembley on Sunday. Sweden had the first chance of the match in the first minute as Sofia Jakobsson went through and brought out a fine save from Mary Earps who denied her effort with an outstretched foot.
In the 9th minute, Stina Blackstenius‘s header from a corner hit the crossbar. England took the lead in the 34th minute as Beth Mead controlled a Lucy Bronze cross before firing into the net. It has to be said the goal came against the run of play. The goal ensured the Lionesses were leading at the break with Sweden just like in their quarter-final victory over Belgium would be ruing their missed chances.
England doubled their lead early in the second half with a Bronze header Mead corner. Bronze had been caught out on a couple of occasions in the first half but scoring here was the perfect way to silence her critics.
Alessia Russo came off the bench to make it three with an unbelievable back heel that went through the goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl‘s legs. It was an outrageous piece of skill and improvisation and Russo’s fourth goal of the tournament which have all come off the bench.
A 4-0 rout was completed in the 76th minute when Fran Kirby latched onto a Mead cross before chipping over Lindahl who got a touch but could not prevent it from going into the net. Mead now has six goals and four assists in the competition so far showing again how key she is to the side.
The Lionesses were the deserved winners with the team ending the game with 60% possession and eight shots on target to Sweden’s three. Fantastic scenes of celebrations amongst the players and fans followed at the final whistle with the Lionesses doing a lap of honour.
Speaking to the BBC after the game Wiegman said, “I think they have shown a couple of times they are very resilient. We didn’t start well, we had a hard time. We found a way. The players in the game found a way to get out of their pressure. I’m so incredibly proud of them.”
Wiegman is not known for tinkering with her side and resisted calls to start Alex Greenwood ahead of Rachel Daly for the semi-final. The decision paid off as Daly produced a fine performance. There will be more calls for Russo to start ahead of Ellen White but we will see what Wiegman decides to do come the final on Sunday. White again missed the opportunity to go level with Wayne Rooney as England’s all-time record goalscorer.
Germany beat France 2-1 thanks to two goals from Alexandra Popp in the other semi-final which has set up a classic match at Wembley on Sunday night. Popp is a player England needs to be wary of as she already has six goals in the tournament already.
Both sides have conceded just one goal in the competition so far so we can expect a tight game in the final. England is 19 games unbeaten under Wiegman and will be desperate to make it 20 in the final.
The Germans have won eight European championships whilst England’s best result has been a runner-up medal in 2009 where they lost to Germany. The Lionesses who were just a part-time side at the time lost 6-2 that day in Helsinki.
Germany has also won two World Championships and an Olympics. The Lionesses are yet to win a trophy but with home advantage on Sunday, this could all change.
Former England midfielder Fara Williams reflected on Germany’s tournament as a pundit on the BBC saying, “Germany have had a fantastic tournament, only conceding one goal all the way to the final. They have been in transition for a few years now, and they seem to be the Germany of old. They came into the tournament unknown but now we know who they are.”
The final will be held at Wembley on Sunday 31 July with kick-off at 17:00 BST.
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