The Lionesses came from behind to defeat Spain 2-1 thanks to goals from Ella Toone and a phenomenal strike from outside the box from Georgia Stanway.
Sarina Wiegman was back on the touchline at the Amex following her bout with COVID and her team was unchanged again.
The first half saw Spain characteristically passing the ball about well and have the better of the chances. However, the Lionesses had the ball in the back of the net in the 36th minute as Ellen White fired in after the ball fell to her from a free-kick but it was ruled out for offside.
It was England’s first challenge of the tournament but they finished the half strongly as it finished goalless.
Wiegman’s side also started the second half well but disaster struck in the 54th minute when Esther Gonzalez Rodriguez finished found space in the box to take a touch and finish past Mary Earps. Athenea del Castillo provided the assist after she got in behind England right back Rachel Daly.
It was the first goal England had conceded in the tournament and Wiegman responded immediately bringing on Alessia Russo for White and Chloe Kelly for Beth Mead.
Lauren Hemp was brought down in the box on the 59th minute but nothing was given. Toone was then introduced for Fran Kirby in the 63rd minute.
Earps made a fantastic save as del Castillo’s mishit cross was veering into the England net. Daly fired an ambitious effort from outside the box in the 65th minute but it was easily caught by Sandra Panos. It was the Lionesses’ first shot on target which shows how well the Spanish had defended.
England was knocking on the door with Hemp firing a shot over the bar in the 75th minute. Alex Greenwood replaced Daly in the 82nd minute as England went to three at the back sending Millie Bright forward. The plan worked as Toone equalised soon after as Hemp’s cross to was headed down by Russo to her Manchester United teammate who slotted the ball into the net.
Spain had never won a knock-out game at a major tournament and the England goal clearly rattled them as they felt there was a foul in the build-up to the England goal. There were protests on the pitch and off it. Their backup goalkeeper Misa was shown a yellow card for dissent.
England was playing with a new lease of life since the goal but the 90 minutes finished 1-1 and it was to be decided in extra time and potentially penalties.
Stanway scored a screamer in the 95th minute as she found space outside the box and fired into the back of the net.
Nikita Parris and Jill Scott were introduced for Kiera Walsh who was injured and Hemp on the 116th minute to see out the final few minutes.
In the 119th minute, Spain had a corner which they sent up their goalkeeper Panos but the routine came to nothing. Four minutes of injury time were added on which the Lionesses saw out to book their place in the semi-finals.
Speaking after the game an excited Stanway who was keen to rejoin her team’s celebrations said told the BBC what she thought of the game “Unreal. That shows the level we’re at. We get a setback and we come back. Job done. Focus on the semis.
“I wasn’t too sure [if the shot was going in]. It’s one to be proud of. I’ll remember today. We put in a massive shift. We just have to enjoy this moment and crack on.”
England will play Sweden at Bramell Lane in the semi-finals. Sweden finally secured their place by beating Belgium 1-0 in the quarter-finals. Linda Sembrant’s goal in the 92nd minute was enough as extra-time and potentially penalties were looming.
Sweden had 34 goal attempts compared to Belgium’s three during the game showing how wasteful they were but it was worth the wait for the Swedish fans.
Sweden has been to the latter stages of major tournaments recently getting to the final of the Olympic Games last year where they lost to Canada on penalties in the gold medal match. Also in the 2019 World Cup, they defeated England 2-1 in the third place play-off. Sweden is second in the World Rankings only to the USA so it will be no walk in the park for the Lionesses.
England will be aware of Sweden’s players who play in the Women’s Super League such as Magdalena Eriksson of Chelsea and Stina Blackstenius of Arsenal. Blackstenius had a goal ruled out by VAR in the quarter-final.
Eriksson looking ahead to the semi-final with England said to the BBC, “It’s going to be an extremely tough game. England have been amazing in the tournament so far. I know all the players – extremely talented players. We have to be really on it. It’s about recovering and getting fresh again.”
Kirby and Mead did not play to their usual high standards against Spain. While Russo and Toone came on to make a huge difference. It will be interesting to see what Wiegman does but she is not known for tinkering with her side. She won the tournament with the Netherlands in 2017 by choosing the same starting lineup for each game.
England will face Sweden in the semi-final on Tuesday 26 July kick-off at 20:00 BST.
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