England 2, Spain 1 (AET, 1-1 at FT, Women’s European Championships)
Goals by Ella Toone and Georgia Stanway saw England qualify for the Semi Finals of the Women’s Euros after a tough test by Spain.Embed from Getty Images
England came back from conceding the first goal for only the second time in 12 games at UEFA Women’s Euros after Esther Gonzalez’ opener saw Spain lead until the 84th minute before Stanway put England back into a lead they never relinquished after 96 minutes.
The result meant that highly fancied Spain have still never won a knock-out game at a major tournament although they gave England a fright even without two of their best players in Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas and Jenny Hermoso.
England were again unchanged for their quarter final at Brighton’s Amex Stadium but were missing Hannah Hampton through COVID just as boss Sarina Wiegman recovered from her own bout enough to take charge of the team in person.
And as with the last three times they have met Spain outplayed England in the first half, preventing the English from landing a shot on target even though Ellen White had a goal ruled out for offside after 37 minutes and their first legitimate shot came after 40 minutes.
Gonzalez was the first player to breach the England defence during the Euros – her 54th minute strike laid on by Athenea Del Castillo was the first they conceded after 23 shots in the tournament so far.
England faced their toughest challenge yet as they failed to register a shot on target until 68 minutes through Rachel Daly although Lauren Hemp was denied a penalty shortly after the hour-mark after tangling with Manchester United defender Ona Batlle.
England had to rely on saves by Mary Earps – including a one handed effort to defy Del Castillo – to stay in the game.
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Substitutes changed the game for both sides, and with 8 minutes to go Wiegman rolled the dice by replacing Daly, who had been given a torrid time by Del Castillo, with Alex Greenwood and sending Millie Bright, who had been a rock in defence, into the attack.
The tactical switch seemed to do the trick as it gave Spain something different to think about and it took just two minutes to reap a deserved reward.
With six minutes to go Ella Toone volleyed England back on terms after Alessia Russo flicked on Lauren Hemp’s deep right wing cross into the box after beating Paredes in the air to win the ball.
That gave England a life line and an extra 30 minutes of Extra Time with which to change their destiny – and England needed just six of those 30 minutes to get into the lead.
Stanway popped up with a long range screamer which flew into the top corner from 20 yards out after she was released by Keira Walsh and was given space to advance by the retreating Spanish who were distracted by a run by Hemp.
Amazingly, it was the 100th goal scored by England under Sarina Wiegman in just 18 games under their Dutch manager.
Spain’s Mariona Caldentey was replaced by striker Amaiur Sarriegi – their highly rated striker who had seen no action in the tournament before this point.
Wiegman called for the experience of 35-year-old Jill Scott – making her 159th England appearance – and Nikita Parris who were brought on to see the game out as Walsh limped off with cramp and Hemp was given a break.
England had to survive some tricky moments from the Spanish before they could relax with the Spain goalkeeper Sandra Panos up in added time right at the end as they desperately tried to equalise.
MATCH STATS – England 2, Spain 1 AET
England Women: Earps, Bronze, Bright, Williamson, Daly (Greenwood 82), Stanway, Walsh (Scott 116), Mead (Kelly 58), Kirby (Toone 64), Hemp (Parris 116), White (Russo 58)
England Women subs not used: Roebuck, Carter, Stokes, England, Wubben-Moy
Goals: Toone 84; Stanway 96
Spain Women: Panos, Batlle, Paredes, Leon, Carmona, Guijarro, Cardona (del Castillo 46), Bonmati, Abelleira (Aleixandri 71), Caldentey (Sarriegi 100), Gonzalez (Garcia 77)
Spain Women subs not used: Gallardo, Rodriguez, Andres, Guerrero, Ouahabi, Pina
Goal: Gonzalez 54
Referee: Stephanie Frappart