Kelly prodded home a loose ball from close range to end England’s 56-year wait for a World Cup or Euro victory in front of a record crowd of 87,192 for any match in the history of the European Championships. England appeared to be on course for victory after 90 minutes when substitute Ella Toone’s sublime chip over Merle Frohms put the hosts ahead.
Lina Magull levelled the score 11 minutes from time, demonstrating Germany’s remarkable resilience. But, for the first time, England would not be denied a major tournament victory. Kelly recovered from an anterior cruciate ligament tear in time for the tournament and became a national hero by being in the right place at the right time to pounce when Germany failed to clear a corner in the 110th minute.
Germany’s fortunes were not in their favour when captain and top goalscorer Alexandra Popp suffered a muscle injury in the warm-up. But, a year after the Three Lions were defeated on penalties by Italy in the Euro 2020 men’s final, England’s women went one better. Sarina Wiegman, England’s manager, has now led her country to back-to-back women’s Euro titles after leading the Netherlands to victory five years ago. England is unbeaten in 20 games under Wiegman, but they were pushed to the limit by the eight-time champions, despite the absence of Popp.
The Wolfsburg striker, who was injured for the duration of Euro 2013 and 2017, had scored six goals in five games en route to the final. Despite losing their main goal threat and facing the intimidating atmosphere of a packed Wembley Stadium, Germany demonstrated remarkable resilience. England was saved by desperate defending from Mary Earps, Leah Williamson, and Millie Bright, who also stopped Marina Hegering from turning in a corner. Wiegman did not make any changes to England’s starting lineup throughout the tournament, despite calls for Alessia Russo to start ahead of Ellen White up front.