Euro 2022: England beat Sweden in the final

Everywhere you looked, the story was against England. Take your pick: your record of winning just a handful of their many previous encounters with Sweden; the fact that their semi-final opponents were the highest-ranked team at this European Women’s Championship and had been unbeaten for 90 minutes since 2019; or, perhaps most relevantly, the Lionesses’ three consecutive semi-final defeats in their last three major international tournaments. The record books offered little consolation.

But as Sarina Wiegman pointed out during this tournament, history counts for nothing. The Lionesses are just one game away from victory in their first major tournament after convincingly securing their place in Sunday’s Wembley final. Four unanswered goals – the third was a truly sensational chop from Alessia Russo – brought world-class opponents into play at Bramall Lane and ensured the Lionesses had all the momentum they needed to advance to their biggest game in 13 years .

That wasn’t quite how the other Scandinavian team they faced in that tournament was beaten. Sweden were the better side for the first half hour and had they taken advantage of one of the many opportunities England offered them this semi-final could have taken a very different turn. But when top scorer Beth Mead scored her sixth of those Euros, Wiegman’s side were in control. Lucy Bronze doubled the lead early in the second half while Fran Kirby rounded off a memorable evening.

Wiegman named the same starting line-up that began England’s journey through this tournament five games ago, ignoring any clamor for having the likes of Russo, Alex Greenwood and Ella Toone, even after their game-changing impact from the substitutes’ bench against Spain. Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson has preferred to keep opponents guessing in this run into the semi-finals, but stuck to a four-a-side defender system despite suggestions he might switch to a three-pointer.

Whether England expected it or not, there was a repeat of poor starts against Austria and Spain. Sofia Jakobsson would have opened the scoring within the first minute after pinning Stina Blackstenius’ pass up the butt if Mary Earps’ shoe hadn’t gotten in the way. The Lionesses goalkeeper had to be on guard again minutes later to save Blackstenius one-on-one, although Bronze followed up from behind to ensure the Arsenal forward parried her tame shot. Blackstenius’ header from the resulting corner hit the bar.

When Bronze then lost the ball cheaply to Fridolina Rolfo and gave arguably Sweden’s most dangerous attacking man a chance to penetrate the back netting and fire into the side netting, there could be no reason: England had not started well at all. What’s more, this became exactly the kind of competition that played into their opponents’ hands, full of quick transitions executed at a breathless pace. Although this meant Wiegman’s side had their own opportunities to get forward, they didn’t take advantage of them.

Until suddenly they did. The step that led to the first began like several before and led to nothing. But this time, Lauren Hemp stayed on the blind side of her marker and charged in on the left. Her cross narrowly dodged Ellen White and ran to the opposite flank where she was sent back by Bronze. The ball was behind Mead, but with her back to goal, she controlled it with her first touch and shot through goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl’s batting header with her second.

Mobbed: Beth Mead (second right) gets the applause after scoring

(PA wire)

Goals change games and it was the same in this semi-final. The composure and control previously lacking in the lionesses’ game was suddenly found. Keira Walsh, superb with the ball in midfield, began to set the calm, collected pace that continued until half-time. And within minutes of both sides reappearing, England were up twice. There has been a lot of talk about Sweden’s threat of attacking set pieces under construction, but Gerhardsson could try to work on defending them as well.

Mead’s deep, sweeping corner traveled to the far post, then Bronze’s header slid through a sea of ​​yellow to nestle up front. A quick VAR check examined whether Hemp had stood in Lindahl’s eye line and found nothing unusual, although Sweden could still curse his luck. After witnessing five of his own being ruled out by the technology during that tournament, playmaker Kosovare Asllani described the implementation of VAR at this Euro as a “disaster”. It had once again worked against her.

Backheel brilliance: Russo scored a sensational third for England

(Reuters)

However, England’s second would not be decisive. Their place in their first Euro final since 2009 was almost confirmed by an incredible third place finish. Russo initially keeps claiming and after hitting with a backheel nutmeg, even Wiegman might start listening. The Manchester United striker more than made up for a golden opportunity seconds earlier by shooting straight at Lindahl from point-blank range. As she turned the ball with her back to goal, it seemed the chance was gone, but the impromptu, brilliant finish that followed will be remembered as the goal of the tournament.

Kirby’s goal added an air of dominance to the result that was perhaps undeserved. On the other hand, from a Swedish point of view, it was avoidable. Lindahl got the Chelsea playmaker’s clipped shot from the edge of the box with two hands but somehow let it bounce through her and over the line. The Sweden goalkeeper couldn’t handle it, much like her team-mates couldn’t with England when they took the lead. The last time the Lionesses reached the finals of this tournament, they lost 6-2. Germany, its conquerors tonight or France are waiting on Sunday. But what does history matter when England is writing its own?

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/england-women-sweden-result-euro-2022-b2131864.html Euro 2022: England beat Sweden in the final

Fry Electronics Team

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