LONDON — England won 2-1 against Germany in the final of the European Championship after Germany’s extension on Sunday, capturing the first major title in women’s football.
Chloe Kelly scored the winning goal in a rebound in the second half of extra time after Germany failed to free a corner. The match had ended 1-1 after 90 minutes at Wembley Stadium, with Germany’s Lina Magull overturning Ella Toone’s England goal.
After the final whistle, the English players danced and the crowd sang their national anthem ‘Sweet Caroline’. The good-natured atmosphere in the stadium contrasted with the violent scenes on Sunday when the England men’s team lost the European Championship final to Italy a year ago in the same stadium.
“I always believed I would be here, but to be here and score the winner, wow. These girls are amazing,” said Kelly, who returned from a serious knee injury in April. “This is great, I just want to celebrate now.”
Kelly took off her shirt to celebrate her goal, which earned her a yellow card, but also a shout-out from Brandi Chastain, who celebrated in the same style when her penalty won the World Cup for the USA in 1999. “Enjoy the free pints and dinners for the rest of your life from all over England. Cheers!” Chastain wrote on Twitter.
The tournament record of more than 87,000 people underlined the growth of women’s football in Europe since the last time England and Germany played for a continental title 13 years ago.
On that occasion, Germany rose to a 6-2 victory over a team from England that still relied on part-time players. Two years later, England launched its Women’s Super League, which has professionalized the game and has become one of the most important leagues worldwide.
That meant increasing competition for Germany, which was a pioneer in European women’s football and increasingly faces well-funded rivals in England, Spain and France. England’s title comes 56 years after the country’s only major men’s title, which was also an extra-time win at Wembley over Germany during the 1966 World Cup.
Ella Toone clung to a long pass from Keira Walsh to get behind the German defense 62 minutes into the game, sending a nice lobed shot over goalkeeper Merle Frohms and into the net for the opening goal.
Toone’s goal, six minutes after coming into play from the bench, sparked celebrations as England manager Sarina Wiegman – the winning coach of the Netherlands in 2017 – raised both arms for joy.
Facing its first defeat in nine European finals, Germany came close when Lea Schüller hit the post and tied the score in the 79th when Lina Magull knocked a low cross past England goalkeeper Mary Earps, sending the game into extra time.
As the game moved into extra time, there were echoes of another European Championship final at the same venue the year before, when the England men’s team took a 1-0 lead but lost to Italy on penalties.
Germany was left without captain Alexandra Popp – the team’s top scorer with six goals – after reporting a muscle problem during the warm-up. She was replaced in the line-up by Schüller while Svenja Huth took over as captain.
The game was goalless after a physical first half in which Ellen White narrowly shot over the bar for England, while Marina Hegering nearly forced the ball into a corner for Germany before defender Leah Williamson and Earps intervened.
Both teams could have been awarded a penalty in the first half, first when the ball appeared to hit Williamson’s arm as she cleared, and later when Hegering ducked to clear the ball and collided with Lucy Bronze.
After the final whistle, Popp joined her teammates on the field and was comforted by England’s Georgia Stanway with midfielder Lena Oberdorf.
Wiegman remains unbeaten in 12 games as a coach at the European Championship after having won the tournament first with the Netherlands and now with England. One of her first moves after England won was sharing a hug with 35-year-old midfielder Jill Scott, the only player left from both teams after England’s 2009 loss to Germany.
The match was whistled by Ukrainian Kateryna Monzul, who fled her homeland after Russia invaded. Monzul, one of Europe’s leading referees, left her home in Kharkov – a major city that has been heavily bombed by Russian troops – and spent five days in a basement in her parents’ house before leaving the country, eventually living and working in Italy.