After a remarkable summer of football, the Lionesses will take on Germany in Sunday’s final at Wembley Stadium, London.
With both sides facing different challenges in the semi-finals, here’s how the two teams booked their places in the final; one step away from lifting the trophy.
Sweden, who lacked fluency and a clinical edge last time out, were always going to be deadly on the counter. But England couldn’t have expected the blistering start they set when Lauren Hemp was dispossessed on the halfway line, leading to a fine stop from Mary Earps as she denied Sofa Jakobsson from a narrow angle.
England tried to respond in rapid time, but an unmarked Beth Mead couldn’t put away the header.
Sweden continued to pile on the pressure in the opening 25 minutes, forcing Earps into another classy stop as well as rattling the crossbar from a corner.
But England couldn’t be contained for too long. Golden Boot leader Mead notched up her sixth goal of the tournament, turning and firing off a snap shot into the corner with 10 minutes left in the first half.
The Lionesses quickly doubled their advantage just after half time, when Lucy Bronze’s free header at the far post made its way through the crowded penalty area and past the sprawling Hedvig Lindahl.
When Mead failed to keep down her finish from an excellent Alessia Russo cross, Sweden sniffed an opening, however, Earps’ magnificent night continued as she finely tipped over Stina Blackstenius’ attempt.
Russo then turned from creator to goal scorer, working her magic after her initial shot from close range was stopped before finishing the rebound with a deft backheel that split the oncoming defenders and nutmegged Lindahl.
England’s romp continued just moments later, when Fran Kirby’s attempted lob snook through the ‘keeper’s defences to make it 4-0 to the Lionesses.
In the second semi-final, Germany and France made their way to a packed Milton Keynes to battle it out.
With little action in the first half, eight-time European champions Germany made the breakthrough as Alexandra Popp finished a rocket of a volley from Svenja Huth’s cross on the right edge of the box.
Thinking they’d done enough to keep them ahead half time, France hit back just four minutes later when Sandie Toletti nodded on to the dangerous Kadidiatou Diani. She then broke into space and shot from distance, the ball cannoning off the post and into the goal via the back of goalkeeper Merle Frohms.
Frohms then made crucial second half saves to keep the score level, blocking Wendie Renard’s close-range header from a corner and Diani’s tight-angled effort following a lapse in the German backline.
Following German pressure in the box, France’s poor clearance allowed the ball to be whipped back in, with Popp rising above to head home the winner, taking her tally to six for the tournament and level with Mead in the Golden Boot hunt.
England’s national stadium will give the Lionesses home advantage, and with a potential record attendance of 87,200 on the cards, it’s going to be an electric atmosphere!
Can England stay on cloud nine and take home the glory in front of the sell-out crowd, or will Germany record their ninth title and spoil the party?
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JD Football | November 21, 2023