England are through to the semi-finals of Euro 2022 after Georgia Stanway’s stunning strike saw off Spain 2-1 after extra-time.
It was an entirely different affair from England’s last match at the Brighton and Hove Community Stadium, in which they destroyed Norway 8-0.
Spain came out fighting from the off, using Aitana Bonmati to control the play, and England looked exposed early on in the match as Mary Earps was called upon to make her first save in the opening five minutes.
Both sides are used to dominating possession, so it would have been frustrating to both to share it so evenly. That said, it was England whose confidence appeared to suffer the most.
England struggled in the first half, which finished 0-0, to keep hold of possession when they got on the ball, and despite some wonderful play, it was consistently shut down too soon.
It looked as if the fate of the Lionesses was well and truly sealed when Spain took the lead through Esther Gonzalez, until two of the younger, members of the pride – Manchester United duo Alessia Russo and Ella Toone – linked up again to see Toone give her country a stay of execution.
As the game went into extra-time, England looked a completely different side, rejuvenated by their goal and the fresh legs brought in during the second half. They played with a freedom and hunger we have come to associate with the new breed of Lionesses, who have truly earned their stripes during this tournament.
It felt only a matter of time until England found the net again, which they did courtesy of a screamer from Georgia Stanway in the 96th minute, paving the way for the Lionesses to play either Sweden or Belgium in the semi-finals.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – ALESSIA RUSSO
As with so many other occasions in this tournament, the youngster made an immediate impact on joining as a sub in the second half. The Spanish side went from impenetrable to completely carved open thanks to her dynamic play.
England: Earps 7, Bronze 6, Bright 7, Williamson 6, Daly 7, Stanway 7, Walsh 6, Mead 7, Kirby 5, Hemp 7, White 6. Subs: Greenwood 7, Scott 6, Parris 6, Kelly 7, Toone 8, Russo 8.
Spain: Panos 6, Batlle 7, Paredes 7, Leon Cebrian 6, Carmona 7, Bonmati 8, Guijarro Gutierrez 7, Abelleira 7, Cardona 7, Gonzalez 7, Caldentey Oliver 7. Subs: Aleixandri 6, del Castillo 6, Sarriegi 6, Ouahabi, Garcia 6.
36’ GOAL DISALLOWED!
Ellen White fines the net from a free kick, but the flag is up – it’s offside and now VAR will confirm that.
54’ GOAL! SPAIN BREAK THE DEADLOCK!
Alas, I spoke too soon – Spain break the deadlock thanks to sub del Castillo who came on to replace Cardona in the second half.
84’GOAL!!!!!! ELLA TOOOOOOOONE!
Ella Toone gives England a fighting chance! THE CROWD GOES WILD – ELLA TOOOOOOOOOONE!
Rodriguez, the Spanish substitute goalie, just got a yellow card FROM THE BENCH for getting lairy about the lack of reprimand for a very normal challenge against Paredes.
96’GOOOOOAAAALLLLL! A SCREAMER FOR STANWAY!
An absolute belter there from Georgia Stanway who strikes from just outside the area and whips the ball into the net. Beautiful goal.