An extra-time strike by striker Chloe Kelly gave England a 2-1 win over Germany in the UEFA Women’s Championship final to claim their first major title in front of a record crowd. on the home field.
Substitute Kelly reacted the fastest with a loose ball from a corner in extra time on Sunday to win her side and avenge their defeat to Germany. during the Euro 2009 final in Helsinki, Finland.
England coach Sarina Wiegman has become the first coach to win a Euro with two different countries, who led her native Netherlands to the championship in 2017.
“I can not stop crying. We said, we talked and we said and we finally made it. You know, the kids are fine. This is the proudest moment of my life,” England captain Leah Williamson said on the sidelines.
“Listen, the legacy of this tournament is social change. The legacy of this team is the winners and that’s the journey. I love every one of you, I’m so proud to be British. I’m trying really hard not to swear.”
After the final whistle, the England players danced and the crowd sang their song, Sweet Caroline.
The friendly atmosphere inside the stadium on Sunday drew a contrast with violent scenes when the England men’s team lost the European Championship final to Italy at the same stadium a year ago.
“I always believed I would be here, but to be here and to score is the winner, wow. These girls are amazing,” said Kelly, who returned from a serious knee injury in April. “This is amazing, I just want to celebrate right now.”
It was a historic night for England, who opened the scoring in the 62nd minute thanks to striker Ella Toone in front of a sold-out crowd at Wembley Stadium.
87,192 attendances is a record for a European Football Federation (UEFA) tournament, either men’s or women’s, underscoring the growth of women’s football in Europe since England and Germany last competed. continental championship 13 years ago.
Substitute Lina Magull brought Germany back into the game to drag it into extra time, but Kelly showed up just in time to score England’s equalizer and send the home fans into a frenzy.
Germany suffered a shock in the warm-up when striker Alexandra Popp, who scored six goals in her first five Euros, suffered a muscle injury and had to be withdrawn from the squad and replaced with Lea Schuller.
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side missed Popp’s presence in the box, but it was a physically heavy encounter that produced a goalless first half.
Toone opened the scoring right after the hour ended with a beautiful finish, right after coming on as a substitute.
However, that was canceled by Magull, who scored the equalizer at close range 17 minutes later after the hosts were pushed back.
The match ended 1-1 after 90 minutes into extra time, as the atmosphere eased a bit at the thought of Germany winning a record-extending ninth Euro title at home to English football. began to overflow.
That was until the 110th minute, when Kelly, who had moments earlier urged the crowd to speak up and cheer for the team, reacted fastest to crash into the winner and inflict Germany’s first defeat. in a big final.
Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba, reporting from outside the stadium in London, said record attendance at stadiums across the country during the tournament: more than 500,000 people attended the matches. .
“Hopefully, beyond the elite, it can lead to greater investment in grassroots sports for girls of primary school age and beyond, not just accessible,” Baba said. but also trained in elite clubs.
“Sometimes it’s not free for them at academies affiliated with top clubs when it’s for boys,” he said. “A little bit of equality, a little more respect and financial stability for professional players so they can give their best to sport. If there’s any question about the quality they deliver, I think this league has really gotten rid of those questions.”