Happy scenes as hosts England defeated Sweden to reach the Euro 2022 final

Happy scenes as hosts England defeated Sweden to reach the Euro 2022 final

ENGLAND are in their first major final since 2009 after the Euro 2022 hosts overtook Sweden with a 4-0 win at Bramall Lane.

After a shaky start for the Lionesses, with Sweden’s Stina Blackstenius hitting the bar, Beth Mead, already leading the Golden Boot race, gave Sarina Wiegman’s side the lead in the 34th minute with a goal that gave her scored six goals for the tournament.

Mead then transitioned into the assist role early in the opening moments of the second half, delivering a corner that was headed in by Lucy Bronze before substitute Alessia Russo scored her fourth goal of the final with a superb back heel in the 68th minute.

Fran Kirby added a chip fourth eight minutes later and there could have been more for England as Lauren Hemp had shaken the woodwork 2-0 as they suffered another semi-final disappointment after being eliminated at that stage in their last comprehensively avoided three major tournaments.

They can now look forward to a showdown with either Germany or France at a packed Wembley on Sunday, where victory will secure them their first major trophy in history.

It is their third appearance in the final of the competition, having finished runners-up 13 years ago – when they suffered a 6-2 defeat by Germany – and at the inaugural Euro 1984, where they were beaten on penalties by Sweden.

A victory on Sunday would also mean back-to-back Euro triumphs for boss Wiegman who, after overseeing her native Netherlands, winning the 2017 edition on home soil and reaching the 2019 World Cup final, had a tenure in England, who remains unbeaten after 19 games with 17 wins, 104 goals scored and just four goals conceded.

The feeling that the team was on the verge of something special was certainly felt among the England fans in the 28,624 spectators in the stadium, with chants of ‘Football’s Coming Home’ echoing across the floor at various points.

Wiegman once again relied on the eleven that had started in each of England’s four previous games at the tournament, while second-placed Olympic silver medalists in the world, Sweden, who triumphed 2-1 in the third-place play-off between teams at the 2019 World Cup, had a line-up with two changes as Peter Gerhardsson brought in striker Sofia Jakobsson and defender Hanna Glas.

The Swedes threatened in the first few seconds when Jakobsson came on as a substitute and saw their shot saved by Mary Earps’ shoe before Mead missed a header on the other end of Kirby’s cross in the fourth minute.

More scares soon followed for England, Blackstenius parrying Earps again, then heading off the resulting corner against the crossbar and Fridolina Rolfo firing into the hosts’ side netting.

Then, as Wiegman’s side began to build some momentum, Ellen White and Georgia Stanway saw Hedvig Lindahl gather the effort while Bronze headed wide from a corner.

They then took the lead just after half an hour as Hemp’s cross dodged White, Bronze sent the ball back into harm’s way and Mead turned and fired past Lindahl to miss her again and a huge roar from the crowd bring .

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Stanway and Kirby each sent ambitious shots wide before the break as England tried to extend their lead.

The second goal then came three minutes after the break when Bronze headed home from a Mead corner, which was confirmed offside after a VAR check.

Sweden tried to hit back, Blackstenius headed wide, Hemp almost made it 3-0 when her shot bounced off the crossbar and Earps did well to overplay a Blackstenius try as Gerhardsson’s team pushed again.

England’s job then seemed all but done as Russo made another mark after replacing White by smashing Lindahl through the goalkeeper’s legs with a fantastic butt after she saved her first shot.

And it wasn’t long before the advantage continued to build – and more chant erupted in the stands – as Kirby got the ball from Mead and made a failed attempt that Lindahl got while wearing gloves but couldn’t prevent it from going into the net .

Russo made an effort late before the final whistle raised the noise level yet again as England were confirmed as Wembley-Wembley.

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