England’s Georgia Stanway scored with a wonderful extra-time strike to earn them a 2-1 win over Spain on Wednesday in an excellent Euro 2022 quarter-final that sent the Lionesses into the last four.
Hosts England were facing an exit from the tournament with six minutes of normal time remaining, but went on to earn a semi-final clash with Belgium or Sweden to the delight of the home crowd.
It was a match which showcased the European women’s game at its best with both teams playing smart technical football at a high-tempo.
But as the familiar chants of ‘Football’s Coming Home’ indicated, it was also a victory which will spark optimism that England, under the guidance of Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman, can win their first major tournament.
There was little to separate the teams in the early stages although England had a 37th-minute effort from Ellen White ruled out for offside.
However it was Spain who grabbed a 54th-minute lead when taking advantage of some sloppy play from England as Athenea del Castillo did well down the right flank and squared the ball to Esther Gonzalez, who recovered after a poor first touch to drill home.
Del Castillo then went close to a second with a cross-shot which was clawed away by England keeper Mary Earps at full-stretch .
Spain were buzzing and playing with real confidence but six minutes from the end of normal time, the Lionesses found a way to keep the game alive when Alessia Russo headed Lauren Hemp’s cross into the path of substitute Ella Toone who poked home to take the game into extra time.
The decisive moment came when Stanway found space in the Spanish half and pushed forward before unleashing a fierce shot from 20 metres out which flew past Sandra Panos.
Spain, who have yet to win a knockout game in a major tournament, were devastated and left the field in tears but for the 28,994 crowd, the biggest for a Euro quarter-final, it was party time.