In front of a record-breaking crowd of 87,192, Kelly’s 110th-minute winner secured on, especially when Lauren Hemp’s cross was met by the head of Ellen White, chance, pouncing on a loose ball on the left and cutting in before being denied by introducing Alessia Russo, who had already notched a record four goals as a was now destined for extra time.
The hosts were having slightly the better of the opening exchanges, forcing a succession of corners, but on 25 minutes Germany seemed set to take the lead from one of their own, only for Leah Williamson to scramble away Marina Hegering’s effort from point-blank range. White then raced on to a Beth Mead cutback, but her strike sailed just over.
Striker Tabea Wassmuth arrived for Germany at half-time and she quickly had a chance, pouncing on a loose ball on the left and cutting in before being denied by Mary Earps. Lina Magull also went close and Sarina Wiegman responded by introducing Alessia Russo, who had already notched a record four goals as a substitute in the finals, along with her similarly impactful Manchester United club-mate Ella Toone.
Within seven minutes, Toone struck. Mead was off the pitch injured, leaving England temporarily with ten players, but Keira Walsh’s incisive through ball from deep set Toone free, and – one on one with Frohms – she held her nerve with a dinked finish.
Germany responded and Magull smashed a shot onto the crossbar, Schüller hitting the rebound straight at a relieved, and grinning, Earps. Her relief was short lived, however, as Magull returned to beat Earps with 11 minutes left, a slick move culminating in Wassmuth providing the assist with a low centre, and the showpiece was now destined for extra time.
The first period of extra-time was a cagey affair with neither side wanting to make an error, but England made the breakthrough with 10 minutes to play. Germany were unable to clear a corner, with Kelly’s own shot coming back to her feet inside the six-yard box. She was there again to turn past Frohms and win England their first major trophy.
It was a classic extra-time period – neither side wanted to give anything away. An agonising penalty shoot-out against the Germans looked to be on the cards. But then Kelly – aged just 24 years old – scrambled home the winner to send Wembley into overdrive, with England seeing out the game to write their names into history.
“This is the proudest day of my life,” said captain Leah Williamson after lifting the trophy. “The legacy of this tournament is a change in society. We’ve brought everyone together and we’ve got people at games. We want people to come to WSL games but the legacy of this team is winners, and it’s the start of a journey.”
England Women manager Sarina Wiegman told BBC:
“We won the cup. It is just unbelievable. I don’t even remember what you’ve asked me! I don’t know what’s going on!
On what makes this team so resilient: “Do you have half an hour? If you really want to become better every single day, that is what you need to do.
“The players have wanted to do it together and we agreed on a couple of things about behaviour, and it wasn’t just words.
“We lived it, and this is the result. With Germany it was so tight, and it was a bit of a fighting game, but who cares? “We’re European champions.
“I told the players we needed five more minutes as we’d already broken two barriers against Spain and we had to do it again for 15 minutes.
“I don’t have any secrets. I just need some time to figure out what’s going on. The trophy is pretty heavy – I would know!”
Author: Gbenga Teejay Okunlola