Sarina Wiegman was rewarded for her confidence and team consistency as England sealed last place at Euro 2022

After one of the most difficult nights of Sarina Wiegman’s tenure so far came perhaps the most complete.

Just one round earlier, England almost went early after coming from behind against Spain, eventually winning after extra time and only after having to really change their approach to battle a side that had prevented the Lionesses from winning theirs to play your own preferred game plan .

But here England, after a consistent and breathless first quarter of an hour or so, managed to first control, then surpass and then be absolutely ruthless against one of the best sides in the world.

A 4-0 result against Sweden to reach the Euro 2022 final is far more impressive than a 20-point win over Latvia in a qualifier, or even a 5-1 win over the defending champions – and Wiegman’s former Team – The Netherlands in a warm-up game. This was an important game with everything alluding to it and England did much more than just win: they remembered how good they can be and reminded the watching world what happens when their best players are allowed to prevail .

And for that, Wiegman might deserve an extra mention, an extra nod of approval.

As always in international tournaments, there were calls for certain changes after the match against Spain. Some of it was technical or tactical, but more was just a tired look from some players.

But with an extra day off, an extra day to prepare and perhaps assert one’s standards in training sessions, Wiegman opted for more of the same: no changes to the line-up and full faith in those who already played Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland and ( finally) Spain.

From the evidence shown over those 90 minutes, there was little reason to do otherwise as from back to front it looked like almost every individual had a pivotal moment somewhere down the line.

However, few did so more often than Mary Earps, suggesting that the score wasn’t the whole story; The Swedes had their chances early in both halves and the goalkeeper was exceptional, brilliantly tipping a shot just over the bar, claiming high balls with confidence and even making a save with her feet within 30 seconds of kick-off.

The pair on the right flank also found the clinical touch when it was most needed. While Sweden squandered their best chances or Earps got in the way, Beth Mead and Lucy Bronze both buried the opportunities presented to them.

To put it bluntly, neither scorer had a particularly impressive first half in terms of their build-up play, which makes it all the more remarkable that they still had the composure and attitude to count for it when it counted.

Mead twice gave sloppy passes straight to yellow shirts in dangerous areas, while Bronze was not to blame per se for a string of Swedish attacks in their channel but was certainly prompted to drop lower as they repeatedly spaced behind their high-aimed starting position.

But quality always shows at the top end of the game in the biggest tournaments and this partnership in particular has been surprisingly fruitful for the Lionesses this summer.

They combined for the first time, Bronze’s flat delivery from the right was immediately caught by Mead before spinning and connecting perfectly to drill into the far corner. It was the full-back who scored the second just after the restart, a header from a corner and from that moment there was no doubt who would reach the final.

Add in the superb combination play between Georgia Stanway and the irrepressible Fran Kirby, the lightning-quick substitution from Alessia Russo and a mighty performance from Rachel Daly – another who had a tough game against Spain – and the second half was a non-stop procession of faith .

(Getty Images)

It was the ruthlessness underpinned by absolute certainty, both in their own game plan and in their ability to make the long-awaited move to a major tournament final, their first since 2009.

The German Inka Grings was until this evening the only woman who has scored six times at a European Championship.

England’s Mead is now second and thanks to the heroics of her and her team-mates she has one game left to break that record and win the title on home soil. Sarina Wiegman was rewarded for her confidence and team consistency as England sealed last place at Euro 2022

Fry Electronics Team

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