England 4-0 Sweden: Hosts storm into Women's EURO Wembley final
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
Hosts England are through to their third UEFA Women's EURO final after sealing their Wembley place with a record winning margin in the last four.
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Hosts England cruised into Sunday's UEFA Women's EURO 2022 final with a four-goal win against Sweden that thrilled a sell-out Sheffield crowd, the pick of their strikes a remarkable Alessia Russo back-heel.
1' Jakobsson close in opening seconds
9' Blackstenius hits crossbar
34' Mead gets record-equalling sixth finals goal
48' Bronze heads in England's second
57' Hemp strikes against bar
68' Russo back-heels brilliant third
76' Kirby lobs Lindahl for fourth
Match in brief: England too strong for Sweden
While England retained the same starting XI as in all their games at these finals, Sweden started with Sofia Jakobsson, who had not previously featured here even from the bench, and also welcomed back Hanna Glas. Jakobsson threatened in the first minute, played through by Stina Blackstenius and making Mary Earps save with her foot.
The hosts were generally having more of the ball, but Blackstenius was dangerous on the break, Earps having to dive to deny the Arsenal forward. From the resulting corner, Blackstenius headed onto the crossbar – and Sweden's small knot of just over 1,000 fans were more than making themselves heard among the general din.
England chances were rarer, but Georgia Stanway, the extra-time match-winner against Spain, jinked inside and tested Hedvig Lindahl, who was facing the Lionesses for the 11th time over a period of more than 20 years. However, she was beaten in the 34th minute when Mead spun to turn in Lucy Bronze's cross on the half-volley.
The combination was reversed early in the second half when Bronze rose to head in Mead's corner. Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson rang the changes, though it was Blackstenius who continued to threaten for the Blågult, heading a Fridolina Rolfö cross just wide. Sarina Wiegman sent on Alessio Russo and her first action was a blistering run and centre which Lauren Hemp, from point-blank range, slid in to turn onto the bar.
Sweden kept pushing, Leah Williamson blocking a shot from substitute Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Earps saving brilliantly from Blackstenius. But then a moment of magic effectively settled the tie: Lindahl did well to save an effort from Russo, only for the England substitute to try an outrageous back-heel which went in through the legs of the shocked keeper.
England lost their 2017 semi-final 3-0 to Wiegman's Netherlands side. But they were not prepared to settle for three of their own here, Kirby chipping over her former Chelsea colleague Lindahl for goal number four. From then on, a sell-out Bramall Lane was pitched somewhere between wonder and hysteria, a huge final-whistle roar sending England on to Wembley in search of a first major women's trophy.
Player of the Match: Beth Mead (England)
"Consistent and hard-working on the right wing, linking up and finding key passes. Crucial first goal excellently taken. The corner delivery for the second goal topped up a productive evening."
UEFA Technical Observer panel
Lynsey Hooper, England reporter
Russo's cheeky back-heel finish will no doubt steal all the headlines, but collectively England once again showed they are a force to be reckoned with and worthy finalists. Mead's opening goal felt the most important because it came at a time when Sweden were on top. Earps made key saves when needed and, in the second half in particular, the Lionesses made light work of their opposition when they were stretched chasing the game. Wiegman's side have got the country believing, notching four goals against a team ranked above them in the world rankings. This feels like a landmark result.
Alexandra Jonson, Sweden reporter
That's a heartbreaking end to this tournament for Sweden. They came with a very strong team and one objective – to finally win a major trophy. They looked strong in the first half and were the better side for most of that opening 45 minutes, but didn't take advantage of the chances they created. That has been a problem all tournament. Against a team as strong as England, that will come back to hurt you – and it did. The result, however, looks worse than the performance. But there is no sugar-coating it. This is not what Sweden were here to do, and they will leave England very disappointed and self-critical.
Sarina Wiegman, England coach: "The start of the first half wasn't very good; they had a big chance within the first minute. During the first half, we got more in the game and we did better. We scored the goal and then we got more control of the game. In the second half, we totally took over.
"You need to have the small celebrations. It's also a little relief now, so there's a little party going on in the dressing room and that's really nice. We'll have a good night's sleep, recover tomorrow and prepare for the final on Sunday."
Beth Mead, England forward: "There's a lot of emotions running through the team, but I'm incredibly proud of the team tonight. A proud night for us as a nation as well. [Sweden] started the game really well. They opened us up a little bit at times and it was a good time to get the goal. It gave us that extra energy to finish the first half well. The second half, we produced such a dominant display."
Alessia Russo, England forward: [On her goal] "I was a bit gutted I missed the sitter that Lauren [Hemp] played in, so I thought 'I'm going to have to do something about this.' Luckily, it fell to me. I thought that was the quickest route to goal so I hit it and hoped."
Peter Gerhardsson, Sweden coach: "I can't give analysis but I can give emotions. It's tough, naturally. In the first 25 minutes, I thought we had chances, even though England did too. We had the more dangerous chances to score first. It would have given the game a different outlook. Going 2-0 down from a set piece early in the second half against a difficult opponent like England is going to be tough. Then going to 3-0 and 4-0 doesn't make it any easier."
Fridolina Rolfö, Sweden forward: "Right now I am really disappointed and it’s hard to analyse the game, but it felt like we started really well – we played good, we put pressure on them. But then when we had a good period in the game, they scored a goal and they continued, scoring another goal. In the second half, we had to take a chance and try to score and go high with the team, but then they continued to score, so it was a tough game today."
- England are into their third final after defeats in 1984 and 2009: only Germany, Norway and Sweden have reached more.
- Mead has equalled the record of six goals in a single final tournament, set by Germany's Inka Grings in 2009. She also overtook Jodie Taylor to become England's all-time leading Women's EURO scorer.
- Bronze scored her first Women's EURO goal, including qualifying, having already hit three goals in FIFA Women's World Cup final tournaments.
- Russo became the first player to score four Women's EURO goals as a substitute.
- Four goals is a record margin of victory in a Women's EURO semi-final. It is also the first time Sweden have ever lost by more than two goals at a Women's EURO.
- Wiegman now has ten wins from ten Women's EURO games as head coach of Netherlands and England (she missed the group game with Northern Ireland here).
- England have struck 20 goals in these finals, one off Germany's record from 2009.
- The crowd of 28,624 spectators established a new record for a Women's EURO semi-final.
England: Earps; Bronze, Bright, Williamson, Daly (Greenwood 86); Stanway (Scott 86), Walsh; Mead (Kelly 86), Kirby (Toone 79), Hemp; White (Russo 57)
Sweden: Lindahl; Ilestedt (Andersson 55), Sembrant (Bennison 76), Eriksson, Glas; Angeldal (Seger 51), Asllani, Björn; Rolfö, Blackstenius (Hurtig 76), Jakobsson (Rytting Kaneryd 51)
England will face the winners of Wednesday's Milton Keynes semi-final between Germany and France in the final at Wembley Stadium at 18:00 CET on Sunday 31 July.
Sweden return to action with a 6 September trip to Finland in 2023 Women's World Cup qualifying, though their place in Australia and New Zealand is already booked.