England produced a thrilling second-half performance at Bramall Lane to secure a 4-0 win over Sweden and reach the final of Euro 2022.
Sweden settled more quickly out of the two teams, with Stina Blackstenius hitting the crossbar early on. England gradually grew into the half though and took the lead with a classy finish from Beth Mead.
Lucy Bronze powered in a header just after half-time to double England’s advantage before a sensational back-heeled goal from substitute Alessia Russo put the result beyond doubt. Fran Kirby completed the rout by lifting a fourth over Hedvig Lindahl.
England will now face either France or Germany in a sold-out Wembley Stadium in the final on Sunday.
There’s something happening here. England had already produced one devastating performance to beat Norway in the group stages, and their victory against Spain in the last eight required a defiant show of character from a losing position.
Tonight’s display at Bramall Lane has topped them both. Sweden had the historical edge over England, and less than twelve months ago were within penalties of winning the Olympic title. After a rocky start England dismantled them, and ended the night joining in the delirious, stadium-wide celebration to the tune of Sweet Caroline.
On Sunday they’ll have the chance to make history and win England’s first international title in the women’s game. Germany or France will have plenty to say about that, but with twenty goals to their name and only one conceded, England are gathering some amount of momentum in this tournament. With another memorable Euro 2022 match in the bank, and a nation gripped by their progress, a legacy that is surely already secure might be cherry-topped with the ultimate triumph at Wembley.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – FRAN KIRBY (ENGLAND)
Mead shone again and Russo scored an outrageous goal, but the dynamo that drove England through a difficult start to blow Sweden away was Kirby. Her industry when England toiled early on kept her team in the game, and she set the tempo all night for the speed and precision of an ultimately clinical performance.
England (4-3-3): Earps 7; Bronze 7, Bright 6, Williamson 7, Daly 7; Stanway 7, Walsh 6, Kirby 8; Mead 8, White 6, Hemp 7
SUBS: Russo 7, Toone 7, Greenwood 6, Scott 6, Kelly 6
Sweden (4-2-3-1): Lindahl 5; Ilestedt 5, Sembrant 5, Eriksson 6, Glas 6; Angeldahl 6, Bjorn 6; Jakobsson 6, Asllani 7, Rolfo 6; Blacksteinius 7
SUBS: Seger 6, Rytting Kaneryd 6, Andersson 6, Hurtig 6, Bennison 6
9’ OFF THE BAR! Now Blackstenius hits the bar! The corner comes in, Sweden crowd Earps in the six-yard box, and Blackstenius gets to it first and crashes a header off the bar.
34’ GOAL! ENGLAND 1 (MEAD 34) SWEDEN 0 – England take the lead! Daly and Hemp combine down the left, but the cross overshoots White in the middle. Bronze drills the loose ball straight back into the box from the right, and Mead kills it perfectly on the penalty spot before hooking a shot into the far corner!
48’ GOAL! ENGLAND 2 (BRONZE 48) SWEDEN 0 – England double their money! Hemp wins a corner down the left for England. Mead takes it, lofts the ball to the back post and an unmarked Bronze runs onto it and powers a header back across goal and into the bottom corner! That went through a crowd of players but after a VAR review, it stands!
65’ EXCELLENT SAVE! Asllani tries to run Daly, and forces another corner for Sweden. Andersson whips it in, England scramble clear, and Sweden lump it back in to Blackstenius. She shanks her finish a touch but it’s looping in, until Earps climbs and tips it over the bar at full stretch! That’s brilliant from England’s number one.
68’ GOAL! ENGLAND 3 (RUSSO 68) SWEDEN 0 – Oh my days, this is sensational! England carve Sweden open through the left of their area. Kirby pulls it back to Russo, who has an open look from twelve yards out and puts it straight at Lindahl. The loose ball goes to the right and Russo runs to it, before back-heeling the ball through the legs of Lindahl and into the net. The cheek! The class!
76’ GOAL! ENGLAND 4 (KIRBY 76) SWEDEN 0 – She’s earned this. The outstanding Kirby runs on to a ball that splits the centre backs. She chips it from the edge, and Lindahl gets hands to it but can’t stop it clearing her and drifting into the bottom corner!
90’ SO CLOSE! Hemp clips in a delicious ball to the back post, where Russo arrives and misses it by millimetres. Any contact was a certain goal.