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Soccer

It’s Come Home

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Leah Williamson of England lifts the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Trophy after their side's victory during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

For the first time since the 1960s, England’s soccer team has a championship. Today the Lionesses downed Germany, 2-1, to finish off a dominant Euro 2022 run with the first international title in the women’s team’s history and the first hardware for either senior international team since the 1966 World Cup. It is finally Home.

Both teams were dominant on their way to the Euro final, with a combined goalscoring record of 33 for and two against. England, the hosts of the tournament, scored 20 of those 33. Although Germany lost leading scorer Alexandra Popp to a pregame injury, they played with determination and managed to create more of the dangerous chances in the first half. Germany’s 20-year-old Lena Oberdorf commanded the midfield, and when her side was able to press England in the attacking third, chances came their way. In the 25th minute, a gaggle of German attackers tried and failed to put one in Mary Earps’s goal from point-blank range, but she fended them off.

By the 60th minute, the match smoothed out, and it seemed Germany would open the scoring. The visitors were more reliably creating the game’s best chances and England had to spend increasingly long chunks of time defending their penalty box. Sensing the need for fresh legs, England manager Sarina Wiegman brought on Alessia Russo and Ella Toone. Her timing proved to be immaculate, as Toone ran onto Keira Walsh’s perfect through ball and opened the scoring with a lovely chip on her second touch of the game.

Germany was clearly shocked to have conceded, though after recovering from the impact, they got back to work and equalized 17 minutes later. Lina Magull finished off a lovely move by Sydney Lohmann and Tabea Waßmuth with a clean shot from close range in the 78th minute.

As extra time ticked down, the specter of a shootout loomed. One year ago, England’s men lost the Euro 2021 final on penalties in backbreaking fashion in Wembley. Losing back-to-back Euro finals in the same exact way, in front of the same home fans, would have been a remarkably cruel though probably appropriate fate for the English. But Chloe Kelly prevented such a conclusion by converting a scramble right in front of goal in the 109th minute. After a brief pause for a possible VAR check, she went nuts.

After taking the lead, England then ruthlessly and efficiently smothered the rest of the game. Germany put a soft shot on goal in the 114th minute, but they never got close to completing a pass in England’s half. Kelly made sure of that by running the ball to the right corner flag and clowning on any German player who tried to pry it away from her. Any composure Germany had left after Kelly’s go-ahead goal was beaten out of them. It was ugly at first, but eight consecutive minutes of garbage was a long enough run that it became incredibly impressive. The Germans couldn’t do a thing about it, and they managed only a token dart forward before the final whistle.

And so, England have redeemed themselves, in front of their home fans, proving themselves to be the best of the field. In one year, they’ll head to the World Cup and try to double up on hardware, though that trophy will be a bit more difficult to win.