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It came home

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Obedorf had marked Fran Kirby out of the game and into the Tube somewhere, but the only time she or the German central defense lost their mark was when Toone ran off her here. Walsh only needed one look, though obviously the finish borders on obscene.

It was a surprise life jacket for England, as the second half had seen Germany start to really lean on England and create a few chances. Normally teams trying to cut off passes to Walsh had allowed defenders Millie Bright and Leah Williamson to send passes through those lines to Kirby, Stanway, or either of England’s hellish wingers. But both Bright and Williamson were a little off their games today and those passes went loose far more often. And as possession turned over and over back to Germany more and more, England were gasping until the goal.

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And after it, as they tried to hang on but couldn’t. Again, both Spain and Sweden had targeted Rachel Daly on England’s left — Spain to the point where Daly had to be subbed off in an act of mercy — and that’s where Germany’s goal came from:

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And from here the gremlins started popping up and running wild in everyone’s mind. Penalties against Germany? Would England once again suffer at the hands of the rigidness from their manager? Sarina Wiegman had turned England into this monster, and her steady hand was exactly what was required from the host nation. The football she has engineered for this team to play has been stunning at times (and making former manager Phil Neville to be the dingus we always knew he was) . But you could write her substitution pattern down from memory: Ella Toone and Alessia Russo on early in the second half, Chloe Kelly and Jill Scott late in the second half, maybe Nikita Parris too (though she’ll point to Toone and Kelly scoring the goals and suggest I get fucked, and she’d be right).

But before Kelly saved them, it was right to wonder whether insisting on starting Ellen White, who looked a half-step off all tourney, was the right call. Or whether the trigger should have been pulled on Daly earlier or from the start. Doing things because that’s just how you’ve done them generally isn’t an answer. Is for now, however.

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Though one of those gremlin narratives might have saved England. Because Germany, after bossing the first half of extra time, seemed to accept penalties as the outcome they would most prefer in the second half, because it’s Germany and it’s England, stupid. Right? England got more into it, got a corner, and then Chloe Kelly earned herself free pints for life:

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And also maybe the most iconic photo in England’s football history:

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From there it was some of the most delicious shithousery and time-wasting from Kelly and Lucy Bronze on the right side of England, who seemingly drained the last five minutes on the clock straight from the corner flag by themselves.

England have won something. It’s such a strange sentence, but a pretty glorious one. While the FA’s barring women from playing the game for so long is what left them so far behind, and the ways the women’s game has been treated for so long everywhere a blight, maybe the best thing about being in this time frame is to witness nations, fans, teams, players do things for the first time. Sure, it took too long and is still too slow, but there is a unique joy to seeing something happen first. England’s first win, the fans it will generate, where their domestic WSL could go. There’s an unrestrained nature to it that creates a salty discharge from one’s ocular cavity.

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England isn’t really women’s football’s home, given the treatment of the past. But it can certainly rent there for a bit.

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