England 1-1 Brazil (4-2 pens): EURO winners edge Finalissima thriller
Thursday, April 6, 2023
Chloe Kelly held her nerve to fire the winning spot kick as European champions England claimed the inaugural Women's Finalissima following a tense encounter at Wembley.
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EURO 2022 match-winner Chloe Kelly scored the decisive penalty as England won the 2023 Women's Finalissima in a shoot-out.
23': Toone polishes off neat move
90+3': Andressa Alves punishes hosts
Match in brief: England edge to Finalissima glory
England, roared on by an enthusiastic Wembley crowd of 83,132, started on the front foot and looked to stretch the Brazilian defence as much as possible, with Lauren Hemp at the heart of everything. It was the Manchester City attacker's close control and driving run from the left that created the first opportunity, Lucy Bronze's fierce right-footed strike bringing a good save from the flying Letícia.
The Lionesses did not have to wait long for their breakthrough, and it was a goal worthy of the grandest stage. A flowing passing move quickened in pace closer to the penalty area and a smart exchange between Georgia Stanway and Bronze gave the Barcelona defender the chance to cut the ball back for Ella Toone near the penalty spot. The Manchester United midfielder, who opened the scoring in the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 final victory against Germany at this venue, duly did so again, sweeping a shot into the far corner.
Sarina Wiegman's side could have gone in at the break further ahead, with both Hemp and Alessia Russo denied by Letícia and the lively Lauren James curling an effort just wide.
Brazil switched to a more attacking outlook in the second half and the change almost paid off within a minute after the restart, but substitute Andressa Alves was unable to beat Mary Earps.
England struggled to regain their foothold in the match immediately after half-time, Kerolin pouncing on a misplaced pass before hitting a low effort just the wrong side of the upright.
The Seleção edged closer to an equaliser, Barcelona striker Geyse in particular a constant threat to the home defence. Just before the hour, her rasping shot was tipped acrobatically on to the bar by a strong right hand from Earps.
Brazil's persistence eventually paid off in added time, when Alves pounced from close range after Earps was unable to gather Adriana's curling effort from a tight angle.
The England goalkeeper made amends in the shoot-out, denying Tamires after Toone's spot kick had been kept out by Letícia. Brazil captain Rafaelle's penalty cannoned off the bar before Alex Greenwood and, decisively, Kelly converted in emphatic fashion.
Lynsey Hooper, England reporter
Another trophy for England under Wiegman, but this ended up being a tighter game than the first-half performance suggested. A superb team goal finished off by Toone will be remembered for a long time by the 83,132 in attendance. But Brazil finally breached England's defence in the 92nd minute after testing their resolve throughout the second half.
A tense penalty shoot-out provided another challenge for the Lionesses to overcome. Earps made key saves in the 90 minutes and was crucial when it came to spot kicks along with team-mate Kelly, who for a second time at Wembley had the final say in a key encounter. There's something about Wembley and Kelly that is written in the stars.
Carlos Machado, Brazil reporter
A real performance of two halves from the South American champions – they were lucky to be just one goal behind at the break, but a change to 4-4-2 and the introduction of Andressa Alves made all the difference. Ary and Geyse both missed chances but Andressa – who else? – popped up late on to take it to penalties. One save and one miss in the shoot-out, but the performance after the break gives Brazil plenty to take away from this one.
Sarina Wiegman, England head coach: "Brazil played two different formations. In the first half, we played very well. They weren't able to get on the ball and we should have scored a couple more goals. We said at half-time they might switch back to 4-4-2, and they did. They pressed a lot higher. We had a lot of problems getting out of their press and lost the ball a lot. That was a struggle for us, but that's good for us; it gives us a lot to learn."
England match-winner Chloe Kelly: "It's great being back here at Wembley in front of our home fans. They were brilliant again tonight. This feels like home for me. It was brilliant to be here and an excellent performance from the girls. It was another challenge here tonight but we're building momentum and keep moving forward now."
Leah Williamson, England captain: "We weren't best pleased with our second-half performance, but to win on a penalty shoot-out at Wembley, it's not too bad, is it?"
Andressa Alves, Brazil goalscorer, speaking to UEFA.com: "To face England, one of the best teams in the world along with the USA, is very hard. First half we struggled a bit with the ball, missing too many passes and giving them too much space. In the second half, we clearly improved, we had better ball transitions and made England uncomfortable."
Rafaelle, Brazil defender: "I think we put in a great second-half performance; in the first half, we struggled a bit with England’s pressing, but after we changed to 4-4-2, we found our rhythm. In the second half, we were able to complete more passes, we linked up with each other better and found space that we could exploit."
Karen Carney, ITV Sport
"Tonight England proved they can take penalties in front of a big crowd. They came up against some adversity in terms of Brazil changing their shape, there's a lot of things for Sarina Wiegman to come away with from tonight."
- Toone's goal was her 16th for England on her 30th appearance for her country.
- England are unbeaten in their last 30 matches (W25 D5), since a 2-0 defeat against Canada in April 2021.
- The Lionesses have not conceded more than one goal in that 30-match unbeaten run.
- England have lost just one of their seven matches against South American opposition.
England: Earps; Bronze, Williamson, Greenwood, Carter; Stanway, Walsh, Toone; James (Kelly 74), Russo (Daly 74), Hemp (Robinson 88)
Brazil: Letícia; Lauren (Andressa Alves 46), Kathellen, Rafaelle, Tamires; Antonia (Gabi Nunes 87), Ary (Fernanda 87), Luana (Duda Francelino 69), Kerolin; Zaneratto (Adriana 46), Geyse