Ella Toone became England’s hero in the quarter finals of Euro 2022 as she equalised in the 84th minute against Spain to keep The Lionesses in the competition.
There were three Manchester United players involved in the Lionesses victory, whilst Ona Batlle shone in Spain’s resistance.
Mary Earps started the game for Sarina Wiegman’s side and had her busiest game of the competition so far.
Just three minutes in, and Earps was tested. Spain fired a cross in but Earps, alert to the danger rose to meet and collect it, taking a slight knock to the ribs on the way down.
Spain had a number of chances and England were struggling to look comfortable in possession. It was their toughest opposition yet.
Another quarter of an hour went by and Earps pulled off another fantastic save with her feet to deny Mariona Caldentey.
Spain were getting in behind and had chance after chance whilst England began to struggle to get out of their own half.
Against the run of play, England thought they had taken the lead as Ellen White knocked the ball goal-ward after a Beth Mead free-kick but it was disallowed for offside.
It was Spain who struck first in the second half though. Nine minutes after the restart and Esther Gonzalez slotted it past Earps after del Castillo’s brilliant run. It was time for England to wake up and Wiegman, from the touchline, plotted their comeback.
Sending on the super subs, Chloe Kelly and Alessia Russo entered the fray first, just four minutes after Spain went 1-0 up and though they injected a new pace and intensity, it wasn’t enough for Wiegman who, just minutes later, sent Ella Toone into the attack.
The Lionesses had a new lease of life but that didn’t stop Spain’s attacks and Mary Earps had to pull off another huge save when Del Castillo fired a rocket of a shot at United’s number one who managed to get a hand to it and keep it out. It would have been all over had Earps not made that save.
Just six minutes from the final whistle, the United super subs combined to get the Lionesses back in contention though.
Russo rose higher than the two Spanish defenders in the box and headed it down into the path of best friend Ella Toone, who fired it in from close range. The fans at the Amex erupted as Toone peeled away to celebrate wildly.
Brilliant strategic play from Sarina Wiegman and the link-up between Russo and Toone kickstarted a comeback.
Spain couldn’t fashion a response and extra time ensued but the momentum was on England’s side.
It was Georgia Stanway that capitalised on this as her rocket of a strike from just outside the box found the back of the net. It was electric in the Amex as the fans went wild.
Spain kept on coming but England fought hard until the final whistle of extra time sounded. They had to dig deep for the victory but ultimately the United girls and Wiegman’s calm and calculated game management was the difference between the two sides in the end.
What a fantastic game of football and an inspired victory from the Lionesses. They’ll have to wait until Friday to find out their opponents in the semi-final.
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