Beauty and Beast - the two goals that turned England into European champions

  • In Sports
  • 2022-07-31 20:18:56Z
  • By The Telegraph
Beauty and Beast - the two goals that turned England into European champions - GETTY IMAGES
Beauty and Beast - the two goals that turned England into European champions - GETTY IMAGES  

The first was the beauty, a wonderful goal and the very best in direct attacking play with an exquisite final touch.

The second was the beast, a scrappy, scruffy toe poke as the ball ricocheted and bounced around the six yard box and was finished off by a toe poke.

These are the two goals that beat Germany in extra-time, ending a 56-year wait for an England team to win a major trophy and brought football, at long last, home.

Ella Toone and England
Ella Toone and England's celebrations went on into the night - GETTY IMAGES  

The Beauty

England were under the cosh, In fact, Germany looked the better side, slicker and more threatening. This was the most worrying period of the match. The Germans sensed their hosts were there for the taking and the fans in the crowd were starting to worry. Everyone of a patriotic persuasion was getting nervous.

That is the context for what happened next and we must begin with Keira Walsh, who has been England's quarter-back; the deep lying midfield playmaker throughout this tournament and a player Germany had devoted special attention to keeping quiet. Or at least they tried to, by fair means or foul.

But on this occasion, Walsh collected possession on the ball in some space. She was deep inside her half, though, and the women in green shirts prepared for a short pass forward. They had been snuffing out those passes since the start of the second half and were ready to do so again.

This time, though, Walsh looked further up the pitch. She had the time to do so and realised that sometimes you have to do the unexpected; you have to take a risk and do not, whatever you do, stick to the game plan.

England had been trying to pass through Germany's midfield and the opposition were winning that battle. It was the right time to launch the long range weaponry. This time the element of surprise was key.

Ella Toone had made the run and screamed over the din, an arm raised to signal she was going to try and gallop into the space behind the high line German defence.

It is a simple move to defend against if you try to do it all the time, but as a sneak attack it was devastating.

The pass from Walsh was sublime, hit with the perfect speed, weight, curl and distance to not only get over the head of the German centre back, but bounce once and, crucially, hold up on the turf for Toone to run on to it and take it on in her stride. It was laser guided perfection. We are talking millimetre perfect.

Walsh had done her bit but Toone still had plenty to do. Her first touch was strong, taking the ball under control and further away from the retreating, but rapidly closing defender.

Looking up, Toone had plenty of time to think about what she was going to do. For some players, that is a problem not a benefit  - not England's substitute.

Toone watched goalkeeper Merie Frohms come far enough off her line, for her to try something ambitious.

Under pressure from behind, Toone clipped a chip from the edge of the area like an artist signing their name on a masterpiece. The ball looked to be going too high and at too much speed as it floated over the head of the goalkeeper. The ball was curling too, it could be going wide as the stadium held its breath, but it was dipping and dropping, the ball coming down just before the angle of crossbar and post into the top corner of the net.

Toone picks her spot - PA
Toone picks her spot - PA  
Toone has no issue with the onrushing Frohms - PA
Toone has no issue with the onrushing Frohms - PA  
While Frohms looks back in desperation, Toone is off celebrating - PA
While Frohms looks back in desperation, Toone is off celebrating - PA  

The Beast

Germany's equaliser could easily have knocked the stuffing out of England but with the prospect of penalties looming, England came up with an ugly, scrappy goal that owed as much to their battling spirit as it did a clever set piece routine.

Lauren Hemp swung in the corner, an inswinger from right. It was a dangerous one, curling into the corridor of uncertainty just outside the six yard box. It may well have been meant for Lucy Bronze's head, but even though it fell short, Bronze out muscled her marker and managed to get a thigh on it in the air and send the ball bouncing and spinning towards the middle of the goal.

Chloe Kelly is not renowned as a goal poacher, but the way she used her body to bump another defender out of the way, letting the ball run across her body was key. That opened up a shooting opportunity from close range that panicked the Germans.

Germany had the bodies back, in theory to clear, but when Kelly failed to make a proper connection with the first attempt, it actually helped the Manchester City player, as all Frohms could do was save with her feet.

The loose ball fell perfectly for Kelly, who stretched out a telescopic leg to send a firmer toe poke through the gap between goalkeeper and defender (seen in the video below).

There was a split second of confusion after Kelly had whipped off her top and revealed a Nike sports bra - a nod to the iconic winning goal scored by the USA's Brandi Chastain at the 1999 World Cup - as England's players briefly thought the referee had blown for a foul amid the thunderous noise of the celebrations.

She had not and Kelly sprinted away into the arms of the substitutes and disappeared under a sea of bodies.


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