Georgia Stanway’s extra-time stunner capped a remarkable England comeback as they beat Spain 2-1 to reach the Euro 2022 semi-finals.
Spain frustrated the Lionesses for much of the first 90 minutes. They had the upper hand in possession and shooting, along with other time-blocking techniques to prevent England reaching their full potential in a moody encounter at Brighton.
They also took the lead shortly after the break, with VAR denying England an opener and a first-half penalty. Half-time substitute Athenea del Castillo skillfully beat Rachel Daly down the right, before cutting the ball for Esther Gonzalez. The Spanish striker then made no mistake by shooting past Mary Earps.
It was the first goal England had conceded at Euro 2022, and until the 84th minute it looked like an early exit from their home tournament. But substitute Ella Toone appeared to score Alessia Russo’s header, sending the game into extra time.
Spain felt aggrieved by the equalizer given as they believed Russo had fouled captain Irene Parades in the build-up, but neither referee Stephanie Frappart nor VAR felt the same way. Spain substitute goalkeeper Misa Rodriguez received a yellow card for dissenting while on the bench.
The pendulum continued to swing England’s way, roared by the crowd of nearly 29,000 at the Amex Stadium as a superb shot from Stanway sealed victory. Keira Walsh fed his former Manchester City team-mate before the midfielder unleashed an unstoppable effort from 20 yards to send England through well.
“It’s definitely one that I’m proud of. I’ll always remember today. We made a massive, massive change,” Stanway told the BBC after the game. “Unreal. It just shows the level we are at. We get a setback and we come back. Job done.”
The Lionesses will now face either Sweden or Belgium in their semi-final on Tuesday at Bramall Lane. As for Spain, they failed to reach the quarter-final stage for a third consecutive European Championship.
How England fought back to reach the last four
It was a largely cautious first half, with neither side wanting to take the lead. However, Spain saw the best of possession but created little with it.
On 10 minutes, Ellen White sent a flying header wide after a superb free-kick from Beth Mead, although the offside flag was raised. Right after, Mariona Caldentey shot 20 yards out, but she went straight for Earps.
England thought they had taken the lead just before the break as the wild Amex celebrations came to an abrupt halt. White converts a free kick from close range, but the offside flag was up. VAR did not overturn the decision, with Lucy Bronze deemed to have interfered with play from an offside position.
VAR once again accepted the decision on the pitch on the hour as England’s loud cry for a penalty was again dismissed. Lauren Hemp descended into the box after an encounter with Ona Batlle, but referee Frappart did not kick.
Spain could have added a second with an audacious chip from Del Castillo down the right wing, forcing a paw save from Earps. Shortly after, England saw two attempts blocked before Hemp launched his effort over the bar in what looked to be the epitome of England’s evening.
But then the fightback started when Toone got level with the Lionesses before the Stanway stunner saw the Lionesses ahead. Spain pressed for an equalizer to force penalties, but the English defense held firm, sending them into the last four.
Wiegman hails England’s resilience | “I tried to stay calm! »
England head coach Sarina Wiegman:
“I think I went a little crazy. I was so happy – I tried to stay calm but it was so close, a game that could have gone either way. I was so happy that we had won.
“We showed resilience, we showed that we could come back from behind. From the 80th minute, we changed form and we scored very quickly. Then we came back to that, and in extra time when we scored we were a little better, we were a little fresher, then they had to score again and pushed.
“For the fans in the stadium and in front of the TV, it was an incredible game. The fans here were so behind us, it was incredible to experience.
English player ratings
Earps (7), Bronze (6), Brighton (7), Williamson (6), Daly (5), Walsh (7), Stanway (8), Kirby (6), Mead (5), White (6), Hemp (6).
Submarines used: Kelly (6), Russo (7), Toone (7), Grenwood (6), Scott (n/a), Parris (n/a).
“Every game the substitutes have had an influence. It shows the depth of our team, the eagerness of every player to start or come in. Everyone is also on the same page all the time and wants to make the difference. I’m just really happy about that, we all stick together, everyone knows their task, otherwise you can’t do what you bring to the field.
“I don’t make the decisions alone, we have a technical staff who communicate what we want to do before a game, during a game we talk about scenarios – it’s also team work.
“What the fans did for us was really home advantage, it was really amazing to experience and it really helped our team.”
How Twitter reacted
Vilda: We are proud of what we have seen on the pitch
Spain head coach Jorge Vilda:
“It’s a disappointing loss and to get out of this competition. If there’s a good way to lose, I think it’s playing the kind of game my players did tonight. We’re all very proud from what we saw on the pitch, everyone improved, we gave our all, it wasn’t and now we have to keep our heads up and we will analyze it further in the future .
“We’ve got a very good team here, there’s a great future ahead of us from what we’ve seen in this tournament. It’s a tough day for us, we’ll just have to digest it over the next few days and see where we can improve.
“When there are only a few minutes left, you think about how not to concede a goal. Then a cross came in, the ball was knocked down and we went into extra time.
“We can take the good performances from our players, and there is a bright future ahead of us. We scored the goal, but then we were losing the ball and struggling to win the ball back in midfield. England had looked dangerous in wide areas and corners, so we removed players who we felt would help us less in those areas.
“We would have liked to have had more ball, I think the key would have been to score a second goal to end the game. It was not possible, and that led to what happened next.”
The knockout stage…
Wednesday July 20
Quarter-final 1: England 2-1 Spain (AET)
Thursday July 21
Quarter-final 2: Germany v Austria – Kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium
friday july 22
Quarter-final 3: Sweden vs Belgium – Kick off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Saturday July 23
Quarter-final 4: France vs Netherlands – kick off 8pm, New York Stadium
tuesday july 26
Semi-final 1: England v Sweden or Belgium – Kick off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Wednesday July 27
Semi-final 2: Germany or Austria vs France or Netherlands – kick off 8pm, Stadium MK
Sunday July 31
Winners Semi-Final 1 v Winners Semi-Final 2 – Kick-off 5pm, Wembley