Sarina Wiegman has praised her England team’s ability to find a way to win after the Lionesses overcame an uncomfortable opening half hour to beat Sweden 4-0 in the Euro 2022 semi-finals.
Mary Earps made two terrific stops to deny Stina Blackstenius from close range inside the first eight minutes, but England rode the storm and opened the scoring just after the half hour mark via Beth Mead.
Lucy Bronze was on the scoresheet shortly after the break, before another superb Earps stop was quickly followed by an outrageous Alessia Russo back heel to put the game beyond doubt. Fran Kirby lobbed Hedvig Lindahl for England’s fourth 12 minutes from time as the Lionesses reached their first major tournament final since 2009.
“I’m very proud,” Wiegman said. “I think again the team found a way. We didn’t start that well. They got a big chance in the first minute, and then we were struggling a bit by the way they played defensively.
“But we did better and better and the players on the pitch just found the solutions. But we played too sloppy and we played them in their strengths because they were so strong on the counter attack so they got a couple of chances. And after that we scored a goal and that helped a lot.”
The victory saw England overcome their recent semi final hoodoo, having fallen at the final four stage at the previous three major tournaments.
However, for Wiegman, this is familiar territory. The England boss has reached two successive major tournament finals with the Netherlands at Euro 2017 and the 2019 World Cup, enabling her to use her experience to manage the inevitable excitement, nerves and adrenaline that comes with a major tournament final.
“I think that’s what we already did after the group stage,” Wiegman said of managing the situation of a final. “Because we know when you come to the knockout stage and you don’t win, you’re out. So then you play three finals; you put ‘quarter’ in front of it, but actually it’s a final.
“So we managed expectations and how we’re going to approach things, so we’re not going to do anything different from that, only now it’s the final and it’s going to be a full Wembley, and that’s pretty amazing.
“We want to inspire the nation, I think that’s what we’re doing. And we want to make a difference. At the end the whole country’s proud of us.”