England reached the Euro 2022 final with a stunning 4-0 win over Sweden.
All eyes were on Bramall Lane on Tuesday night as the Lionesses looked to close in on their first major piece of silverware on home soil by taking on Sweden in the semi-finals.
Sarina Wiegman’s side had captivated the nation with their run to the final four with a historic record in the group stages, followed by a heroic comeback from 1-0 down against Spain in the quarter-finals.
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The host nation had flirted with elimination at the Amex Stadium when Esther González led Las Rojas into the closing minutes of the match with a 1-0 lead.
However, a dramatic equaliser from Ella Toone followed by a scintillating extra-time winner by Georgia Stanway ensured that England entered their semi-final clash riding the crest of a wave.
Mead gives England the lead
And England fans were relieved to see that the players wanted to secure a more – how shall we say? – straightforward victory this time around as they sought to break the deadlock themselves.
Despite a scare in the opening few seconds where Sofia Jakobsson forced a save from Mary Earps, it was England who sent the Yorkshire crowd wild by taking the lead on 34 minutes.
Beth Mead sparked scenes of delirium at the home of Sheffield United when she fired a sizzling right-footed effort past Hedvig Lindahl having latched on to Lucy Bronze’s ball into the box.
It marked the sixth goal that the Arsenal star had scored at this summer’s tournament, seeing her overtake Alan Shearer’s Euro 96 haul as the most prolific England player – either male or female – at a single European Championships.
Bronze doubles England’s lead
And things only got better after the break when Bronze, who completed a move from Manchester City to Barcelona in June, decided to add a goal to the assist that she had laid on for Mead.
The 2020 winner of the The Best FIFA Women’s Player award doubled England’s money in the second-half when her back-post header from Mead’s corner made its way past everyone and into the far bottom corner.
GOAL!— Goals and Results (@Gols_Results) July 26, 2022
England (2)-0 Sweden
LUCY BRONZE pic.twitter.com/910LU6Ezl4
Russo’s outrageous back-heel
However, the pick of the England goals undoubtedly came from Alessia Russo, who sent social media and Bramall Lane wild with a back-heel reminiscent of Thierry Henry vs Charlton Athletic.
With Sweden having initially snuffed out a big chance for England in the penalty area, the Manchester United star showed incredible ingenuity to find the back of the net with what could well be the goal of the tournament.
The 23-year-old might have had her back to goal, but she dreamed big with a flash of genius that saw her nutmeg Lindahl and put England 3-0 up when it looked impossible to do so. Check it out down below:
GOOOOOAL!— Goals and Results (@Gols_Results) July 26, 2022
ENGLAND MAKE IT 3. WHAT A GOAL FROM ALESSIA RUSSO pic.twitter.com/DUPvYs8yVN
Somebody get Russo a FIFA Puskas Award nomination right now, because to pull that off in the semi-final of a major international tournament is just next level. Take a bow, Alessia, take a bow.
Kirby wraps up the win
From the second that Russo’s back-heel secured its place in the history books, the first spot in the final at Wembley Stadium was only going to one nation – and there was even time for England to bag a fourth, too.
That’s because Fran Kirby clearly wanted to show off some audacity of her own as she unleashed a superb lob from the edge of the penalty area on 76 minutes.
Lindahl managed to take a firm chunk out of the Chelsea star’s deft attempt, but wasn’t able to make enough contact to stop it from creeping across the line and sending England all the way to the final.
The Lionesses will now just have to wait and see whether it will be Germany or France that they line up against at the ‘Home of Football’ for the Euro 2022 final on July 31. Bring it on.
The Arsenal forward notched her sixth goal of the tournament and also created four chances for her teammates.
Mead’s goal now means she is England’s highest-ever scorer in a single European Championships and equals Inka Grings’ record for most goals scored in one Euros, set in 2009.
Meanwhile, Lucy Bronze has a habit of showing up for England in big matches and she proved so once more against Sweden.
The right-back assisted Beth Mead’s opener in the first half and headed home the Lionesses’ second at the start of the second half.
The former FIFA Women’s Player of the Year showed she remains one of the best players in the world and secured a FotMob rating of 8.62.
Elsewhere, Russo continued to cement her status as England’s best-ever super-sub and her back-heel will be played on repeat for years to come.
The Manchester United forward, who has now scored four goals at the tournament, had two shots on the night, according to FotMob.
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