England’s Euro 2022 dream became reality as substitute Chloe Kelly’s extra-time finish saw the Lionesses beat Germany 2-1 and secure the first major trophy in their history in front of a record-breaking crowd at Wembley.
Kelly prodded the ball past Merle Frohms in the 110th minute to restore the tournament hosts’ lead after fellow substitute Ella Toone’s wonderful lobbed opener just after the hour mark.
Eight-time champions Germany – who had lost star forward Alexandra Popp to injury in the warm-up – equalised with 11 minutes of normal time remaining through Lina Magull, and the game looked on course for a penalty shoot-out until Kelly’s effort fired Sarina Wiegman’s side to glory.
A year on from the men’s team losing their Euros final at the stadium on penalties to Italy, England can celebrate the first piece of major silverware for a senior side since the men’s 1966 World Cup triumph over West Germany.
And there was jubilation at the final whistle as the players tried to take in what they had done amid an almighty roar from the 87,192 crowd – the biggest-ever attendance for any Euros match, men’s or women’s. The England players danced and the crowd sang their anthem “Sweet Caroline" before the trophy presentation, with Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin handing over the main prize to Leah Williamson.
Matchwinner Kelly said she was living the dream. She told the BBC in an interview that was interrupted so she could sing along with her team-mates: “Oh my God, look at them, it is amazing, thank you to every single person that supported us. This is unreal. Sweet Caroline!
“It’s amazing, thank you everyone, this is what dreams are made, as a young girl watching women’s football. Wow, this is unbelievable.”
Meanwhile, boss Wiegman could savour back-to-back Euros successes after overseeing the Netherlands’ triumph on home soil in 2017. Her record in charge of England after taking up her post last September has been near-flawless – 20 games, no defeats, 18 wins, 106 goals scored and only five conceded.
It was a third appearance in a Euros final for the team, and first since losing 6-2 to Germany at Euro 2009 in Finland.
The English women’s game has been on a journey of considerable growth in the intervening years, with the sense of momentum certainly apparent over the last few weeks as Wiegman’s team have thrilled large stadium crowds and television audiences – and there will be sky-high hopes for what the future holds after this historic moment.
There was also a personal triumph for Beth Mead, who claimed the Golden Boot after finishing the tournament with six goals – the same amount as Popp, with Mead taking the prize due to her superior assists tally.
Former England and Arsenal defender Alex Scott struggled to speak as the players celebrated their win on the Wembley pitch.
“This is a dream, an absolute dream for every young girl that dreamt of playing football. It’s incredible,” she said on BBC One.
Fellow pundit Ian Wright added: “I can’t even put into words the amount of work that’s gone into this and they’re getting what they deserve.
“I can’t believe it. I’m so proud – I’m still a bit shocked by it.”
Jill Scott, part of the England team in the Euro 2009 final, came on in the closing stages before the contest entered extra time, the first half of which then saw her survive a VAR check when she blocked a Svenja Huth shot.
A nervy atmosphere then gave way to another eruption of noise five minutes into the second half of extra time as once again a Wiegman substitute made a positive impact – and there could be no greater.
Lauren Hemp swung in a corner, the ball came off Lucy Bronze and Manchester City winger Kelly – who had replaced Mead shortly after Toone’s goal – took two swings at it, with the second going past Frohms.
With Wembley rocking, Germany tried to hit back but struggled to muster much before the final whistle confirmed that the Lionesses’ long wait for a trophy was over.