Football is finally “coming home” for England thanks to Toone and Kelly.

Football is finally “coming home” for England thanks to Toone and Kelly.

England fans have been singing about football’s ‘coming home’ since 1996, when the country hosted the men’s European Championship.

Terry Venables’ team eventually went down to a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out against Germany in the semi-finals at Wembley. Gareth Southgate, who would have been the man to end England’s long wait for victory, missed the crucial penalty.

More than 26 years later, Sarina Wiegman’s women’s team had a chance to finally bring it ‘home’ and it came naturally against Germany.

This time they had the extra equipment to overcome a setback and ended 66 years of pain in a 2-1 win.

England’s men reached the Euro 2020 final last year, losing to Italy on penalties, but that day had been marred by crowd problems ahead of the game at Wembley.

On Sunday there were no signs of such problems. The only clouds hanging over Wembley ahead of this game were in the sky.

Wiegman has secured back-to-back European Championships after also winning with the Netherlands in 2017, confirming the immense improvement she has brought to the Lionesses since replacing Phil Neville.

That victory came a day after Neville’s Inter Miami gave up a 3-2 lead in the last 10 minutes to go 4-4 in a Major League Soccer game, and felt fitting. England are a far better machine than Neville’s at the helm and one of better quality with both goals coming from substitutes.

Both sides were expected to start unchanged until Germany suffered a setback when captain Alexandra Popp suffered a muscle injury in warm-up.

It was agony for Popp, who started the game as joint top-scorer of the tournament with six goals but had to score more than Beth Mead (also six) to lift the Golden Boot thanks to the England star’s superior assist record.

Popp’s absence seemed to have had an effect as Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side found it difficult to pose a threat, although Mead himself had little impact on the game and rarely saw the ball anywhere near the German goal before failing shortly after got away with a knockout in an hour .

Ellen White started again against Alessia Russo, despite the latter having doubled as many goals (four to two) from the bench during the tournament, but White’s pace of work and rushing showed in a first half with few chances.

Germany’s best opportunity came from a chaotic scrum in the 25th minute, which also resulted in a denied VAR check for a penalty while White rushed in from England’s most dangerous attack.

Lina Magull pulled wide as Germany kicked into gear after the restart, and the biggest roar of the day came at this point when Ella Toone and Russo were introduced for Fran Kirby and White.

The bigger celebration had been for Russo, whose four goals from the bench during the tournament was the most by a player in a single edition of a Women’s Championship, but it was Toone who raised those decibel levels when she hit a ball ran over the top of Keira Walsh before expertly lifting Merle Frohms.

Toone became the first opponent to score in that tournament against Germany, although the DFB women hit back almost straight when Magull hit the woodwork.

However, Magull had her goal eleven minutes from time. Clean work down the right saw the ball from Tabea Wassmuth for the Germany number 20, who hoisted her shot into the roof of the net to dampen English sentiment and force extra time in a Women’s EURO final for the first time since 2001 Back then, Germany beat Sweden 1-0.

A familiar feeling for England. Extra time…penalty shootout…brave defeat. But this team is different.

Chloe Kelly – who had replaced Mead – was the heroine, charging home on the second try after Germany failed to clear their lines. A brief wait to ensure the flag was not raised was followed by boisterous cheers. Football was through the gate and coming up the garden path…

Kelly’s goal was England’s 22nd of the tournament, a record by a team at any European Championship (men’s and women’s) and this time the hosts could see the players either drop to their knees or run across the pitch as their performance struck.

The first England senior team since 1966 to win a major tournament, the first to ever win a European Championship and the first to beat Germany in a Women’s European Championship final.

The 87,192 at Wembley Stadium – a new European Championship attendance, male or female – immediately erupted in a performance of Three Lions, informing any doubters that football was finally ‘home’.

England have the trophy, but it’s safe to say that women’s football was certainly the winner at this historic tournament. It came home for everyone.

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