England Strolls to Wembley With Three Goals and One Stunner

Instead, it waited for its opportunity, taking the lead through Beth Mead, the tournament’s leading scorer, a little after half an hour. That might, for a different team, have been the cue to sit back, to hunch its shoulders and grit its teeth. But that is not Wiegman’s way, and so it is not England’s, either.

At halftime, the stadium announcer declared that, “as things stand, England is going to the final.” It felt just a little hubristic, the sort of pronouncement that might come to be seen as a source of regret, though not for long. Within four minutes of the start of the second half, Lucy Bronze had doubled the lead, her header drifting achingly slowly past Lindahl’s dive.

That goal would, in hindsight, have been enough, but at the time it was not, not enough to be sure. Only with Russo’s improvisational, instinctive brilliance could the crowd — could the players — relax. A few minutes later, Fran Kirby, England’s creative heartbeat, ran through on goal. She, too, was in one of the biggest games of her career. She, too, knew this was serious.

But still she chose the indulgent option, lofting a delicate, arcing chip just beyond Lindahl’s grasp, deflecting off her gloves into the net behind her. It was the sort of thing a player tries when they are, despite the situation in which they find themselves, having fun.


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