A record crowd of 87,192 — men’s or women’s — in a European Championship final saw Chloe Kelly’s first international goal beat the eight-time winners Lions.
After three defeats at the final hurdle, goals from Kelly and Ella Tone canceled out Lena Magull’s equalizer and capped the dream with a stunning season.
And despite only beating Germany twice in their previous 27 matches, Wiegmann’s players battled hard to extend the Dutch coach’s impressive run.
Damage to the pop
Germany suffered a major setback when star striker Alexandra Popp, the tournament’s top scorer with six goals, suffered a hamstring injury during the warm-up.
He was replaced by Leah Schuler in the starting 11, marking a tragic end to what had been a heartwarming story of redemption for the 31-year-old. After missing the last two Euros through injury, he has made up for lost time by equaling the goalscoring record set by his compatriot Inca Greene in 2009.
Pop’s angst as she walked off the field served as a stark contrast to the euphoric atmosphere of the sold-out Wembley Stadium as singers Becky Hill, Stefflon Don and Ultra Nate took to the center circle to host the pre-match set. – Match scene.
A few hours before the start of the race, the area around the stadium was packed with fans and flags, and it was a perfect preparation for the record-breaking race before the trophy was lifted.
A total of 487,683 fans attended the pre-tournament matches, more than double the match attendance record held by the Netherlands at Euro 2017.
And that was before the historic numbers recorded at Wembley in 1964 at Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, the highest ever victory in either the men’s or women’s Euro final.
Buoyed by home support, England started on the front foot. Fran Kirby created an early chance by teasing Ellen White’s through ball at the back post, but the Manchester City forward could only steer her header into the arms of Merle Frohms.
A first half with few scoring chances would be the first of a series of opportunities for White.
Frustration fueled by quick succession of yellow cards for Georgia Stanway and White quickly turned to fear for England as a corner resulted in goal-line carnage. As she played a pinball inches from the line, it looked like it was destined to go into the net before being gratefully tapped by England goalkeeper Mary Earps.
Dealing with player complaints will make for a busy day for referee Katrina Monzul, who has canceled six yellow cards and suspended the game for 36 fouls.
England’s best chance to score five minutes before the break was when White, cut down by Bethe Mead, entered the box and the 33-year-old couldn’t keep her off-balance shot.
Following the restart, it was Germany’s turn to fly off the mark and Tabby Wassmuth nearly penalized Millie Bright for a foul two minutes into the second half. But running left, Wassmuth was only able to fire her shot straight at Earps.
As Germany continued their fast start, Wiegmann called the changes as Kirby and White made way for Tone and Alessia Russo. With four goals — all from the bench — Russo was the tournament’s unofficial ‘golden’ sub before the final, but it was Tony who would steal the crown at Wembley.
A perfectly weighted long ball by Keira Walsh split the German defenders, and the Manchester United striker headed home with the pace of Frohms. Her response? The best chips he picked up at the gate and went in.
If the finish was good, the answer was different as Wembley took the lead at the opposite end of the pitch just a year ago when Luke Shaw’s goal put his side in a thrilling display from under the arch.
As in previous England tournaments, that story ended in tears, and he was in the process of writing another painful chapter when he scored a deserved equalizer 10 minutes from time.
With Wiegmann’s side dropping deep to protect their advantage, the pressure was eventually broken when a move that worked well saw Vasmuth slide a low cross into the Bayern midfielder’s near post.
The joyous atmosphere of a few minutes ago was replaced by nervous tension, momentarily magnified by the rousing reception to introduce Jill Scott.
The 35-year-old midfielder became the first English footballer to play in two international finals, replacing Georgia Stanway.
Scott became angry with Sidney Loman after she tripped up the German.
With legs tiring and penalties looming, England forced a corner with 10 minutes to play. Lucy Bronze knocked the ball into the path of Kelly, who, after missing a sweep, flicked the ball over the line and timed her first international goal.
Cue pure Bedlam, frozen with Kelly pausing to make sure her goal counted with referee Monzul. The 24-year-old took off her shirt on holiday.
Monzul’s final whistle sparked the loudest boos yet as the Wembley crowd let their players on the line and tried to secure the ball from a corner as the clock ticked down.
Just in time, “Three Lions” blasted through the stadium speakers. After 56 years of injury, football — finally — came home.