England has finally broken its long wait, since the 1966 World Cup won by the men, and it is to its women's team that it owes it: "Football's coming home", the unofficial anthem of the national selections can finally resonate on an air that is not ironic.
Inflicting on the Germans their first defeat in the final of a Euro, they who have won 8 out of 13 editions, the "Lionesses" have finished conquering the heart of a country which has gradually taken to the game.
Three years after a World Cup-2019 in France which had already concretized the upward trajectory of women in football, and despite the Covid-19 pandemic passed by there, the English Euro ends with an indisputable success.
A popular success, first of all, as evidenced by the 87,192 spectators in the stands, far more than the record for a Men's Euro match, 79,115, for the final of the 1964 edition between Spain, host country , and the USSR (2-1).
The total attendance of this Euro, with 574,875 supporters present in the stadiums, also pulverizes the best mark for the women's continental competition, which was achieved 5 years ago in the Netherlands with 247,041 spectators.
- Heartbreak for Alexandra Popp -
"The numbers are extraordinary, but the biggest surprise for me are those who are surprised that women's football is at such a high level," UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin boasted in the morning during a meeting. a forum in London.
These figures are vital to help development continue, but the level of play has also improved very clearly, whether technically, tactically, athletically...
The final was an illustration of this with a fierce battle between the two best teams in the tournament who held nothing back in the engagement and the duels.
Germany may regret having been deprived in the semi-finals of their winger Klara Bühl, positive for Covid, and, a few minutes before kick-off, of their captain and top scorer, Alexandra Popp, victim of "problems muscles" during the warm-up.
Without Bühl and Popp, the German attack had lost much of its sparkle but not its bite, trying to smother England with heavy but sometimes uncoordinated pressing.
Unlike the opening game against Austria, or the semi-final against Sweden, however, England did not have an ignition delay.
She found the ways to get out cleanly and approach the opposing goal but above all to respond to the physical challenge which gave a lot of work to the Ukrainian referee Kateryna Monzul.
For an hour, the opportunities were rare, Ellen White missing two, with a header in the six meters (3rd) on the goalkeeper and a shot too high on a nice service from Beth Mead in withdrawal (38th).
- A goal as ugly as it is historic -
We had to wait for the two coaches to put in some fresh blood with the replacements for the match to finally get carried away.
On a bright opening by Georgia Stanway, passed close to a second yellow card at the end of the first period, Ella Toone presented herself against the German goalkeeper whom she deceived with a stung ball full of impressive cold blood. given the challenge, the environment and his young age (22), just six minutes after coming into play (1-0, 62nd).
The English unfortunately then retreated too much and paid dearly for it.
Lina Magull, who had missed the frame of a sharp right (50th), at the penalty spot, and found the post with a superb shot (66th), ended up setting the sights by cutting a low center by Tabea Wassmuth to equalize (1-1, 79th).
During the extension, the knockout was in the air and we were waiting for the stroke of genius that would tip the title one way or the other.
Chloe Kelly's point, on a muddled corner (2-1, 111th), will not be remembered for its beauty, but it definitely belongs to the history of English sport.
This goal also confirms the "invincibility" of Sarina Wiegman who has not lost any of her 20 matches at the head of the "Lionesses" and won her 12 matches in a Euro, after having already taken the Netherlands to the crown at home. , 5 years ago.