History is made. The England lionesses roared before a crowd of 87,000 at Wembley and feasted on a competitive German side that did not dare to back off. From ‘It’s coming home to ‘It’s finally home,’ the Lionesses ensured that the wait for a major trophy for England since 1966 is taken care of.
The England Women’s side guaranteed the glory with a feisty 2-1 victory over Germany, something that the men’s team couldn’t accomplish at the Euros the previous year against their competitors, Italy.
For all its worth, England finally has a major International trophy in their cabinet. But the arduous journey of the Women’s team has made the victory even more special. Record audiences were watching the match on their television sets, the streets were deserted during the match, and huge processions were seen after the victory.
Women’s football has surely come a long way from being banned from playing any competitive football to lifting the most coveted prize in Europe.
Some nail-biting and enthralling moments marked the competition between the English and the German sides. After a draw in the first half, England’s upcoming star, Ella Toone smacked one to give the Lionesses the lead. But a cheeky play on the left flank cancelled the goal out in the 79th minute when Lina Magull got the better of the English keeper, Mary Ears, who had been warding off attacks all game.
As the match went into extra time, the English women looked tired as compared to their German counterparts, but the hunger to lift the trophy that had evaded their grasp kept them charged. And then, in the most ungraceful way, Chloe Kelly gave England its most awaited moment by netting the ball between the keeper’s legs after failing to control it the first time.
The Germans were numb but still had 10 minutes on the clock to respond. And in the 113th minute, the German midfielder Lena Lattwein was sent as a substitute for the defender, Felicitas Rauch, but with a note in her hands. A note with a set of instructions on what to do next for the German players, a slight change in tactics, perhaps to put England back to misery.
As soon as she landed on the pitch, Lattwein passed the note to Germany’s number three Kathrin Hendrich who after a quick peek rushed to her fellow central defender, Sara Doorsoun-Khajeh, and handed her the note who instantly studied it.
But what Kathrin ignored was Ella Toone, who almost snatched the note out of her hand. As Toone failed to read the instructions given to her opponents, the English forward Alessia Russo appeared and stood over Sara Doorsoun, trying to get hold of the contents of the note. The Lionesses were willing to go to any lengths to secure the Euro Cup.
In the end, the instructions did no damage. But this moment reminded us of a similar anecdote that took place in the FIFA World Cup back in 2010.
In an encounter between North Korea and Ivory Coast, the former Ivorian right back, Emmanuel Eboué pretended to understand the tactics of North Korea’s manager, Kim Jong-Hun, that he was imparting to his number 10, Hong Yong-jo. Although Ivory Coast had already scored three goals without conceding and was about to win, this hilarious exchange caught the attention of everyone.
A few even joked about the contents of the note passed on by the Germans. But the result had already been settled. It was England’s moment to etch a name for themselves in the history books.
What Russo did was very Eboue-esque, but she certainly displayed and embodied the tenacity of every English player who was desperate to lift the trophy. And after this victory, a new dawn has arisen on the shores of Women’s football in the United Kingdom.