Millie Bright and Fran Kirby were both starters in the Lionesses team which beat eight-time winners Germany in the Euro 2022 final on Sunday afternoon.
At a sold-out Wembley Stadium, a 2-1 victory after extra time secured a first-ever major trophy for England Women. The first goal, scored by Manchester United’s Ella Toone, came midway through the second half, with the 110th-minute winner coming from the boot of Man City forward Chloe Kelly.
The Germany tactical plan restricted Kirby’s time on the ball and she was substituted as England manager Sarina Wiegman made her regular changes in the second half, but Bright played the full 120 minutes of a hotly contested game, in which both sides had their spells on top.
Germany shot against the woodwork when they were 1-0 down before levelling through Lina Magull with 10 minutes of normal time left to play, but the Lionesses avoided a penalty shoot-out when a corner was made to pay in front of a record crowd for the competition.
Twelve Chelsea players were in squads for seven different nations at the start of this tournament. Five made it through to involvement in the final.
While Bright and Kirby started, as they had done so throughout the tournament, Jess Carter and Bethany England were on the Lionesses’ bench and Ann-Katrin Berger was among the Germany subs.
England were fielding the starting 11 that had played every game in these Euros. However, there was turmoil before kick-off for the German side with tournament joint topscorer Alexandra Popp ruled out by injury after the warm-up.
It was Kirby who quickly created the first chance of the game, with a ball to the back post which Ellen White headed straight at the Germany goalkeeper, Merle Frohms, who as throughout the tournament had been selected ahead of Berger.
At the other end, Lucy Bronze made an important contribution, heading over a goalbound shot by Sara Daebritz before having an attempt herself, but once again an England header was pouched by Frohms.
It was indicative of the Lionesses’ solid start that Bright was able to enjoy a quiet first quarter of the game. She was part of a mass white-shirted blockade that kept Germany from opening the scoring during a goalmouth scramble. A VAR check ruled there was no penalty offence.
England’s opponents were improving and asking questions, but still it was the Lionesses who had the best chance as half-time approached, sent over the bar by White. The game reached the interval without a goal. As anticipated, it was tight, it was tense.
There was a rare misjudgement from Bright at the start of the second half but Germany did not convert the chance. Magull then shot just wide of the England goal. The side in green were for a time the better side.
Ten minutes into the second half, Kirby was one of two players withdrawn. Her replacement was Toone who before long was sent clean through and onside by a superb pass from Keira Walsh. Keeping her cool, the forward chipped the keeper to spark delirious scenes from the majority England support inside Wembley.
Germany were by no means defeated yet and Magull hit the England bar before she scored the equaliser with a near-post finish. The game went into extra-time.
The additional 30 minutes was devoid of chances until the final 10 minutes when the Lionesses won a corner. Germany failed to clear and substitute Kelly stabbed the loose ball home from inside the six-yard area, and this time it was lead the Lionesses retained.
Congratulations to our Lionesses on their victory!