England beat Sweden to seal their place in the Euro 2022 final


Instead, she waited for her opportunity, taking the lead through Beth Mead, the tournament’s top scorer, a little after half an hour. It could have been a signal for another team to sit down, hunched your shoulders and grit your teeth. But that’s not Wiegman’s way, and so it’s not England’s either.

At half-time, the stadium announcer said that, “as things stand, England will go to the final”. It was just a little hubris, the kind of statement that might be taken as a source of regret, but not for long. Less than four minutes into the second half, Lucy Bronze had doubled the lead, her header painfully slowly drifting past Lindahl’s dive.

That goal would have been enough in hindsight, but at the time it wasn’t, not enough to be sure. It was only with Russo’s improvisational and instinctive genius that the crowd – the players – could relax. Minutes later, Fran Kirby, England’s creative heartthrob, scored on goal. She too participated in one of the greatest matches of her career. She also knew it was serious.

But she chose the lenient option anyway, throwing a tricky, arcing chip just beyond Lindahl’s reach, deflecting her gloves into the net behind her. It’s the kind of thing a player tries when he’s having fun, despite the situation he’s in.


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