England beats Spain 2-1 to reach Euro 2022 semifinals
BRIGHTON, England (AP) — Georgia Stanway scored an extra-time winner to seal a 2-1 comeback win for England over Spain on Wednesday and send her team to the semifinals of the Women’s European Championship.
With the score 1-1 after 90 minutes, Spain left Stanway with space to hit a powerful drive from outside the penalty area which flew past leaping goalkeeper Sandra Paños’ outstretched hand.
“Unreal. That just shows the level that we are at, we get a setback and we come back and do it. Job done and focus on the semis,” Stanway told the BBC. “It (the goal) is definitely one to be proud of, I will remember today, we put in a massive, massive shift. We are going to enjoy this moment and then crack on.”
After a first half with few clear chances, Esther González gave Spain the lead in the 54th minute off a smart pass from Athenea Del Castillo. A shake-up by England manager Sarina Wiegman was rewarded in the 84th when two substitutes combined to level the score, Alessia Russo heading a cross on for Ella Toone to volley in.
England will play either Sweden or Belgium on Tuesday in its sixth appearance in the semifinals. England has never won the European title. Spain, which had to play the tournament without injured Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, missed the chance to reach the semifinals for the first time in 25 years.
England struggled from the start with Spain’s smart passing and tough tackling, while winger Del Castillo was a force on the right flank after coming on at halftime. She beat left-back Rachel Daly and cut the ball back for González to knock the ball low past goalkeeper Mary Earps, the first time England had conceded in the tournament.
England coach Sarina Wiegman, back in the stadium after missing the previous game because of a positive COVID-19 test, shook things up by substituting out Ellen White and Beth Mead, who had scored seven goals between them in the group stage, then fellow regular Fran Kirby soon after.
As England faced an early elimination in front of a packed home crowd, the payoff for Wiegman’s substitutions came when Stanway’s cross was flicked on by Russo for fellow replacement Toone to volley in her first goal of Euro 2022. Spain appealed that Russo had fouled captain Irene Paredes while challenging for the ball, but the referee wasn’t interested.
After Stanway blasted England into the lead six minutes into extra time, Spain surged forward with hopes of taking the game to penalties. Aitana Bonmati sent a shot wide from a good position, and goalkeeper Paños went into attack at a corner, the ball deflecting off her head and out of danger. The final whistle prompted joyful England celebrations as players did a lap of the field dancing and singing with the crowd.
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