The hosts from England are the first team in the final of the European Football Championship. The “Lionesses” needed some warm-up time, but then not only defeated Sweden clearly 4-0 (1-0), but also their semi-final curse. In London’s Wembley Stadium, the first European title is now on Sunday – no matter against whom.
“Football is coming home” – the last ten minutes of the first European Championship semifinals were one big football party in the stands at Bramall Lane in Sheffield. The English among the 28,624 spectators had to tremble before the break about the first final of their women’s national team since 2009. But after their team improved their performance in the second half, they were finally able to loudly celebrate a clear and well-deserved success.
“We didn’t start well, but my players found a way to relieve the pressure. I’m really proud of them,” said coach Sarina Wiegman after reaching the final. “It was an incredible atmosphere. We’re delighted to be in the final,” gushed forward Beth Mead, who was named UEFA’s Player of the Match after scoring one goal and two assists.
In the final against Germany or France
The relief and sigh of relief were also so great because England had previously suffered semi-final defeats at major events three times in a row. For Sweden, second in the world rankings, it was only the second defeat since March 2020 after last year’s Olympic final. “If we had used one of our opportunities at the beginning, the game might have gone differently,” said the disappointed Swedish coach Peter Gerhardsson after the game. The Scandinavians still have to wait for their second European title win: At the tournament’s premiere in 1984, they defeated England in the final.
On Sunday (July 31, 2022, 6 p.m. CEST, live on Erste and on sportschau.de), England will meet Germany or France in the final of this year’s tournament, who will play in the second semi-final on Wednesday (July 27, 2022, 9 p.m. CEST). The “Lionesses” lost the 2009 European Championship final in Finland 6-2 against the DFB team.
Jakobsson almost with a lightning-fast opening goal
Wiegman left her team unchanged against the Olympic silver medalists after beating Spain 2-1 in the quarterfinals. Hanna Glas returned to the starting XI for the Swedes after surviving the corona infection. Coach Gerhardsson also brought Sofia Jakobsson into his team for the first time at this European Championship after beating Belgium 1-0.
The 32-year-old striker almost wrote the perfect story in the first minute of the game: After 20 seconds, however, England keeper Mary Earps saved her shot from the left half in dire straits.
Sweden surprises England with a strong opening
The big chance was the starting signal for a fast-paced initial phase. England tried to build up their wing play with plenty of possession, but the Swedes – led by Stina Blackstenius – disrupted the build-up early on and often successfully with good pressing. It was also the striker who had the second big chance of the game: Her header from a corner hit the crossbar (9′). The visibly nervous English women initially came – if at all – only to harmless crosses. Sweden’s keeper Hedvig Lindahl only had to intervene after around 20 minutes in her 189th international match.
Mead lets effective English women cheer for the first time
Gradually, however, Wiegman’s side, under whom England are now 19 games unbeaten, came into play better. Sweden left larger gaps in defense – and the hosts finally used them effectively: Mead hit the corner from eleven meters after a pass from Lucy Bronze. Her sixth European Championship goal – she caught up with former German international Inka Grings, who in 2009 was the only one to score six times at a European Championship.
Bronze raises immediately after the change of sides
The opening goal changed everything in this game. Now it was the Swedes, who acted very erratically on the defensive and hardly had any switching actions. Up until the break, England made no further capital out of their superiority in the field. Immediately after the change of sides, Bronze, world footballer of 2020, headed after a corner from about twelve meters (48th). The goal also withstood a VAR check and was already the preliminary decision.
England can rely on Earps as the bottom woman
Sweden’s coach Gerhardsson made three changes early on, but his jokers didn’t sting either. After the English hit the bar through Lauren Hemp (57′), the Scandinavians tried to increase the pressure again. The English defense, who have only conceded one goal in this tournament, withstood this period of pressure – also thanks to keeper Earps: She parried a curious Blackstenius shot with her knee brilliantly (65th).
Sweden’s keeper Lindahl fails twice
The highlight of the evening followed: Alessia Russo, who came on again as a substitute, scored her fourth joker goal in this European Championship with a heel through Lindahl’s legs – 3:0 (68th). The 39-year-old goalkeeper Lindahl did not look good when Fran Kirby scored the last goal from about 20 meters (76th). It wasn’t these blunders that were decisive for the game, but rather the difference in quality when it came to exploiting chances.
England 4-0 Sweden (1-0)
Gates: 1-0 Mead (34′), 2-0 Bronze (48′), 3-0 Russo (68′), 4-0 Kirby (76′)
Referee: Esther Staubli (Switzerland)
England: Earps – Bronze, Bright, Williamson, Daly (Greenwood 86) – Stanway (Scott 86), Walsh – Mead (Kelly 86), Kirby (Thoone 79), Hemp – White (Russo 57)
Sweden: Lindahl – Ilestedt (55th Andersson), Sembrant (76th Bennison), Eriksson, Glas – Angeldal (52nd Seger), Asllani, Björn – Rolfö, Blackstenius (76th Hurtig), Jakobsson (52nd Rytting Kaneryd)