England are chasing their home dream. After having fought until extra time in the quarter-finals last Wednesday to get rid of Spain (2-1, ap), the Three Lionesses this time made short work of Sweden in the semi-finals (4 -0), Tuesday July 26, in the Bramall Lane stadium in Sheffield, thanks in particular to a splendid second period, dominated from start to finish. With twenty goals scored in five games, for only one conceded, the English players seem at the top of their game and can calmly consider the final they will play on Sunday against Germany or France.
However, it was not all easy for Sarina Wiegman’s players in front of the 28,624 spectators present in Sheffield this evening. In reality, the English could consider themselves lucky not to be led as the Swedes started the meeting well. It only took 21 seconds for them to alert Mary Earps, the English goalkeeper, who was there to repel Stina Blackstenius’ attempt (1re).
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If England have had such an impermeable defense since the start of the competition, it is largely thanks to the Manchester United goalkeeper. She was imperial tonight, to the point of disgusting Blackstenius. The Swedish striker, replaced and disappointed fifteen minutes from the end of the match, stumbled on an Earps in a state of grace (8ᵉ), even when she seemed lobbed (65ᵉ). And when it was not the English goalkeeper, she fell on the crossbar (10ᵉ).
To dominate is not to win and the French can testify to this. The Bleues of Corinne Deacon, who had the greatest difficulty in the world to concretize their domination against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals, had to sympathize by witnessing the performance of the Swedes. Because the latter did not know how to take advantage of this first half hour.
Mead smiles again
Formidable in attack, the Three Lionesses made the complementarity and speed of execution of their offensive quartet (Beth Mead, Fran Kirby, Lauren Hemp, Ellen White) speak. When these are found, everything goes quickly. Too fast for the Swedish defenders, overtaken once too many after half an hour of play. Instantly, Mead made a superb sequence on a cross from Lucy Bronze to open the scoring (34ᵉ).
Discreet against Spain in the quarter-finals, Mead confirmed her status as the competition’s top scorer (6 goals). But also that of best passer of this Euro (4 assists) when she returned the favor to Bronze. On a corner, the former side of Olympique Lyonnais took the head of the center of Mead to give a break in advance to the English (48ᵉ).
Stunned after the first goal of the Lionesses, the Swedes then did not succeed much. They especially saw the English attackers tumble, with the crossbar found by Hemp (57ᵉ) before two masterpieces. The first achieved by the incoming Alessia Russo, author of a goal in heel, the ball passing between the legs of Hedvig Lindahl (68ᵉ). The second for Kirby, with a subtle lob on which the Swedish goalkeeper could have done better (77ᵉ).
Four goals, zero conceded, in the semi-finals of a major competition. And the impression that England dominates its subject, despite a sluggish start to the match. Sarina Wiegman’s players seem ready to face Germany or France on Sunday at Wembley (London), in front of more than 84,000 supporters. A year after the men’s defeat in the Euro final against Italy, the Three Lionesses want to make the English people dream. Once again, the air of “Football is coming home” is on everyone’s lips again and the English women’s selection can consider winning a first international title.