Sarina Wiegman described it “as a crazy day” as her England side advanced into the semi-finals of the European Championships, overcoming Spain 2-1 in extra time. It was a night full of ups and downs for the manager and her England players, who faced their sternest challenge under her guardianship.
“The whole game was a test,” said Wiegman. “The level of this game was so high. I haven’t experienced that too much. We know Spain are a very good team, especially in possession. We did pretty well too.”
After a tense first half ended level, Spain capitalised on their domination of the ball to open the scoring in the 54th minute through Esther González. But England rallied with a raft of inspired substitutions: Ella Toone made the impact off the bench to level before Georgia Stanway hit the winner in injury time.
“In terms of a test and a setback and how we came back” continued Wiegman. “We stuck to it with being together as a team and trying to score. Plan B was also [used for] a couple of minutes and then we scored. I’m so proud of the team.”
As Stanway’s strike nestled in the back of the net, Wiegman could be seen celebrating on the touchline. “I think I went a little crazy,” she said. “I was so happy. I tried to stay calm but this was so close and such a game that could go both ways all the time.”
The England manager had a word for the fans that supported their team throughout. “Today showed that in this stadium, what the fans did for us. That was really a home advantage.”
Stanway played an integral role in her side’s progression and was proud of her teammates. “[It was] unreal. That just shows the level we’re at. We get a setback and we come back and we do it.”
“[The goal] is definitely one to be proud of,” she continued. “We’re just going to enjoy this moment and then crack on.”
Millie Bright, a solid presence in England’s back-line, was equally impressed. “Our squad is unbelievable”, she said. “Our subs have taken us to the next level when they’ve come on. In games like that you need them. They were incredible.
“We’ve not been in that position and to get through shows our character and what we’re about. We find ways to win and that’s what we’ll continue to do. Tournament football is about momentum. We’ll stay in our bubble. Nothing changes going into the semis. We showed our true character and talent on the ball. We have to take all the positives out of it.”