The first was beauty, a wonderful goal and the very best in direct attacking with an exquisite finish.
The second was the beast, a shoddy, dingy toe poke as the ball bounced and bounced around the six-yard box and was ended by a toe poke.
These are the two goals Germany beat in extra time, ending a 56-year wait for an English team to win a major trophy and finally bring football home.
England were under pressure, Germany actually looked better, smoother and more menacing. This was the most worrying phase of the game. The Germans felt their hosts were there, and the fans in the crowd began to worry. Anyone of patriotic persuasion was getting nervous.
That’s the context for what happened next, and we have to start with Keira Walsh, who was England’s quarterback; the deep-lying midfield playmaker throughout this tournament and a player whom Germany had paid special attention to remain calm. Or at least they tried, by fair or evil means.
But this time, Walsh accumulated possession in some spaces. She was deep in her half, however, and the green shirt women prepared for a short pass forward. They had been wiping out those passes since the start of the second half and were ready to do it again.
This time, however, Walsh looked further up. She had the time and realized that sometimes you have to do the unexpected; You have to take a risk and definitely don’t stick to the game plan.
England had tried to get through the German midfield and the opposition won that battle. It was the right time to launch the long-range weapons. This time the element of surprise was decisive.
Ella Toone had run away, screaming over the noise, one arm raised to signal she would attempt to canter into space behind the top-flight German defence.
It’s an easy move to defend against if you keep trying, but as a sneak attack it was devastating.
Walsh’s pass was great, hit with the perfect speed, weight, curl and distance to not only get over the German centre-back’s head but bounce off once and most importantly keep it on the grass for Toone to run on and take it in her stride. It was laser-guided perfection. We’re talking millimeter perfect here.
Walsh had done her bit, but Toone still had work to do. Her first touch was strong, taking control of the ball and moving further away from the retreating but quick-closing defender.
Toone looked up and had enough time to think about what she was going to do. For some players that’s a problem, not an advantage – not England’s substitute.
Toone watched goalkeeper Merie Frohms veer off her line far enough to attempt something ambitious.
Under pressure from behind, Toone sliced a chip off the edge of the area like an artist putting his name on a masterpiece. The ball appeared to be flying too high and too fast as it hovered over the goalkeeper’s head. The ball also curled, he was able to go far while the stadium held its breath, but he dived and fell, the ball landed in the upper corner of the net just short of the angle of the crossbar and post.
Germany’s equalizer could easily have put England out of the way, but with penalties looming, England scored an ugly, bumpy goal that was a result of both fighting spirit and a clever set-piece routine.
Lauren Hemp swung into the corner, an inswinger from the right. It was dangerous to roll into the Corridor of Uncertainty just outside the six-yard box. It may have been intended for Lucy Bronze’s head, but while it was too short, Bronze muscled her marker and managed to get a thigh in the air and bounce and spin the ball into the center of the goal.
Chloe Kelly is not known as a goalscorer but the way she used her body to knock out another defender by running the ball down her body was key. That opened up a point-blank firing opportunity that sent the Germans panicking.
Germany had the bodies back to clear in theory but when Kelly failed to make a proper connection on the first try it actually helped the Manchester City player as all Frohms could do was save with her feet.
The loose ball fell perfectly for Kelly, who extended a telescopic leg to send a firmer toe kick through the gap between goalie and defender (see video below).
There was a split second of confusion after Kelly removed her top to reveal a Nike sports bra – a nod to USA’s Brandi Chastain’s legendary winning goal at the 1999 World Cup – when England’s players briefly thought the referee had blown a Foul amidst the roar of the celebrations.
She hadn’t and Kelly sprinted off into the arms of the substitutes and disappeared under a sea of bodies.