And here are Sophie Downey’s player ratings
After three semi-final defeats, England have finally made it to another final. Here’s Louise Taylor’s take on a famous night in Sheffield.
“There are moments in life where I have been proud to be a woman but none seem more obvious than tonight,” writes Lottie. “Women’s football is often dismissed for being ‘boring’, ‘poor quality’ or ‘not as good as men’s football’. These ladies have proven all the critics, misogynists, and doubters wrong and shown that women are more than capable of making the game exciting and winning big.
“What Ian Wright said post-match about if girls aren’t allowed to play football after this, then what are we doing this for, has never been more true. I was a typical tomboy when I was younger but at school was given the option of Zumba as a girl whilst the boys played footie. There needs to be real change in the education system to allow women to play male-dominated sports and someone needs to be held accountable to make sure this happens.
“Now is the time to change. This team of women have shown what we are capable of if we have support and funding to create equity in sport. All the fingers crossed for a big win in the final!”
There’s nothing I can add to that, and not only because I’m male. Regardless of what happens on Sunday, I’ll be amazed (and very confused) if this doesn’t go down as a landmark in women’s sport, never mind football.
With such an emphatic scoreline, it’s easy to forget the importance of Mary Earps. She made two good saves early on and a brilliant one when the score was 2-0.
Let’s return to a happier theme. I could watch this goal for the rest of my natural born days.
England’s last major final was in 2009, when they were hammered by Germany in Helsinki. I’ll be honest, on reflection I’m not sure why I’ve brought this up.
Here’s Suzanne Wrack’s match report from Bramall Lane.
The England players are doing a lap of honour, with the DJ going through all the favourites: Sweet Caroline, Don’t Stop Me Now, Seven Nation Army, Rockin’ All Over the World. Truly, they’re having the time of their life.
Sunday’s final kicks off at 5pm, so you can forget about watching Gino’s Italian Escape and Grow Your Own at Home with Alan Titchmarsh. Whoever they play will be a helluva test, but they can think about that in the morning. Tonight is for celebrating one of the most joyous nights in English football history.
Sarina Wiegman’s reaction
“The second half we did really well. I thought in the first half we struggled a little bit. The second half we had total control of the game and got some more space. It’s really loud here! We’re having a little party.
“[Will you all be trolleying booze tonight?] No, no, course not! We’ll celebrate now a little bit. But as we said before this tournament, we have a dream. We’ve come very far, and now we want to take it away.
“In the second half we played so well. It was such a good performance that I think everyone will talk about it. We’re very resilient. I thought we didn’t start well, so we had a hard time, but the players found a way within the game. I’m so, so incredibly proud of them.”
Beth Mead’s reaction
“At the full-time whistle we didn’t really know what to do! We’re ecstatic to be in the final. I enjoyed my goal – I think it came at a good time, as they’d had chances and there was pressure on us. I’m happy to help the team again. [Has it sunk in yet?] I’m really missing this song, I want to get involved!”
And with that, she’s off to sing Sweet Caroline with her teammates in front of an adoring crowd.
Now the entire England party, backroom staff included, are bouncing around in a huddle. It’s a delightful scene, full of charm. Ellen White still can’t quite fathom it – when they all pull away she stands with both hands on her head in front of the England fans.
Yes, it really, really, really did happen
Ellen White walks onto the field, haemorrhaging tears of joy. Most of the players are beaming. Sarina Wiegman, as calm as ever, has a more restrained smile as she embraces the players one by one. Whatever happens on Sunday – and we’ll come to that, don’t worry – everyone involved will remember this night forever.
England will play France or Germany at Wembley on Sunday after hammering Sweden at a euphoric Bramall Lane. Sweden were the better team for half an hour, much the better team, but Beth Mead’s expert finish settled England down and they ran away with the game after half-time.
Lucy Bronze headed the second, the substitute Alessia Russo scored an incredible backheel and Fran Kirby chipped the fourth. The semi-final hoodoo is over, and now England will play their first final since September 2009.
90+1 min Three minutes of added time. Most of the crowd would happily watch another three hours.
90 min Hemp’s teasing cross from the right just evades Russo, under pressure from Bjorn, and bounces fractionally wide of the far post.
89 min The Russo backheel was even better because she had to wrap her right foot around her standing leg. That’s why I’m loath to be too critical of Lindahl, because the element of surprise was so great. She was definitely at fault for Kirby’s goal though.
88 min “You’re all very welcome,” says Adam Griffiths. “I am nowhere near a telly on Sunday so the name is practically on the trophy.”
87 min “Kirby is the cleverest football player England have had since Karen Carney,” ays Ruth Purdue. “Both were at least two passes ahead of the rest. I am not an England fan but it makes me smile to see her playing again.”
Amen to that.
86 min: Triple substitution for England Jill Scott, Alex Greenwood and Chloe Kelly replace Georgia Stanway, Rachel Daly and Beth Mead, whose superb goal started all this. A word for Daly too, who was under a lot pressure coming into this game and has been close to flawless.
85 min Stanway is booked for a poor, studs-up tackle on Bennison. A few referees would have sent her off for that, though on balance I think a yellow card was correct.
83 min And here’s the fourth goal.
82 min “Just wonderful for Fran Kirby,” says Charles Antaki. “Has there ever been such an unassuming and self-effacing midfield dynamo-schemer-general? Crowded out v Spain but majestic tonight.”
81 min Toone’s cross is shanked onto the roof of her own net by Bjorn.
81 min I’ll be honest, I’m still reeling from the third goal, never mind the fourth.
80 min “Wow!” says Matt Dony. “Somewhere, Phil Neville is taking credit for this…”
79 min Ella Toone replaces Fran Kirby, who walks off to a standing ovation and high-fives her manager. What a lovely moment for a player who has been through so much.
Fran Kirby, who has been close to her mischievous best tonight, gets in on the act. It came from a throw-in on the right, with Mead poking a quick, clever pass into the path of Kirby as she ran beyond the defence. Kirby curled a first-time chip over Lindahl, who got two hands on the ball but could only push it over her head and into the net.
I think it’s safe to say that England are going to Wembley.
76 min Two more changes for Sweden: Lina Hurtig and Hanna Bennison replace Linda Sembrant and Stina Blackstenius.
75 min Sweden are still dominating possession, but at the moment England look the likelier scorers. A night like that was unimaginable in the first 25 minutes, when Sweden opened England up on the counter and had all the best chances.
73 min Bjorn is booked for tripping Stanway.