England defeat Spain in Women’s Euro 2022 quarter-finals

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There is no way England will go home, said captain Leah Williamson after leading her side to a comeback against Spain 2-1 in the quarter-finals of UEFA Women’s Euro 2022.

Spain broke the deadlock through Esther Gonzalez in the 53rd minute before Ella Toone’s volley forced extra time six minutes from time.

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Georgia Stanway’s rocket into the net five minutes after extra time would decide the tie as England progressed to their fourth straight quarter-finals in a major tournament.

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“That’s why we came here, we didn’t pack, we left all our things there, we didn’t go home today,” said the central defender.

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“And I think you just saw the fight. A convincing win is good, but a comeback like that for a team does a lot for confidence and the emotion we ended the game with was incredible.

“That’s the difference, you go from the group stage to a KO game and I never felt like we were going to lose, it was just a matter of time and the change of formation helped.

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“I saw her [Georgia Stanway] has been doing this her entire career, so I wasn’t sort of surprised, more relieved that she ended it so early in overtime. As soon as it left her foot I could see it.”

England were under pressure for the first time at their home tournament after going through the group stage without conceding a goal.

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But it was Spain who got the first blood as substitute Athenea Del Castillo passed the ball to Gonzalez, who fired home to send shockwaves through the Brighton crowd.

Alessia Russo and Toone, who came on as substitutes, and Manchester United team-mates jointly propelled England forward. Russo headed for Toone to shoot home and keep England’s hopes of a first major title alive.

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Williamson added: “It’s important to have a test and you’re exposing yourself to that and you get to prove to yourself that you can get through the other side, which is important for what we’ve just done.

“Regardless of the competition, this is the first test we’ve had in this tournament and it’s important that we played with our hearts.”

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Sarina Wiegman’s tactical substitutions revitalized England when their Spanish counterpart Jorge Vilda failed, but it was regular Stanway who had the final say.

The Spanish defenders unloaded a looting Stanway who aimed from the edge of the box, while Sandra Panos was helpless in goal as England took the lead for the first time in the game.

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Back on the bench after missing England’s final group game while isolating with Covid, Wiegman celebrated jubilantly when the full-time whistle blew and England faced either Sweden or Belgium in Sheffield next Tuesday.

The England manager said: “We didn’t expect an easy game. I’m so incredibly happy that this was just a crazy day and game and a game of such a high standard that I think everyone who watched the game was entertained and the audience was amazing.

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“It could have been either side because both sides wanted to win and played well. Spain are very good at possession, so it was difficult for us to press the ball, stay compact,

“But we had moments in the game where we were good on the ball, where we created chances in front of goal. It’s a really big commercial for women’s football.”

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PLEASE LEAVE IN THE FINAL PAR – Tickets are on sale now so fans can experience a history-making tournament that aims to unite football and communities and amplify the growth of women’s football. www.uefa.com/womenseuro/ticketing

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