The United States fell short tactically at the Women's World Cup and must now look to their European rivals for inspiration.

That is the view of former Italy striker and head coach Carolina Morace, who believes the USA's previous dominance of the women's game owed largely to their players' physical attributes.

The four-time winners recorded their worst-ever World Cup performance in Australia and New Zealand, losing to Sweden in a last-16 penalty shoot-out after narrowly avoiding a humiliating group-stage elimination in a goalless draw with Portugal.

Vlatko Andonovski resigned as head coach in the aftermath of their exit, with the USA having failed to score in back-to-back World Cup games for the first time in the tournament's history. 

Morace, who scored over 100 goals for Italy before coaching Le Azzurre between 2000 and 2005, believes the USA paid the price for falling behind their more astute rivals.

"They dominated the scene for years because physically the players were stronger, more trained than all the others," Morace told Stats Perform. "[Now] all the teams have physically grown. 

"They had to improve tactically. I coached Canada for a couple of years [between 2009 and 2011]. European football does not arrive there. 

"The innovations are in Europe, so the innovations that have been in Europe have not been [happening] in America. I don't know. 

"I am referring to occupying the empty spaces rather than passing between the lines, wanting to dominate the game, starting from the goalkeeper and pressing offensively. These are things they aren't used to doing, because it's a different kind of football there.

"In Australia and New Zealand, rugby is the national sport, so innovations come from there. Football is from Europe and innovations certainly come from here. 

"Maybe they thought that on a physical level they could still make up for the gaps they may have tactically, and it wasn't like this."

The USA scored just four times from 9.14 expected goals (xG) in their four games at the tournament, with star striker Alex Morgan failing to net from 17 attempts totalling 2.96 xG.

The World Cup – eventually won by Spain following Olga Carmona's final strike against England – was defined by upsets, with Germany and Brazil suffering group-stage eliminations.

Jamaica, South Africa, Morocco and Colombia earned plaudits by reaching the knockout stages, and Morace believes a sense of unpredictability contributed to the tournament's success. 

"It was an absolutely special World Cup because teams like Germany, the United States and Brazil immediately left the competition. It is clear that this has shocked everyone," she said.

"This certainly means that, on one hand, some teams have grown a lot, but it also means that teams like the USA or Germany or Brazil had to do better. 

"It was a very, very special World Cup. In the end, however, the final was played between the two best teams. Spain and England were the two teams absolutely on a tactical level and also on a technical level. They expressed the best football. 

"I wouldn't say that from a tactical point of view this was the best World Cup ever, because we saw that many teams had little possession, especially teams like South Africa, like Nigeria.

"The big teams probably didn't expect to find teams that played a different kind of football, more physical and more vertical. Then, in the end, the World Cup was won by the team that had the most possession in the whole championship."

Victors Spain managed more build-up attacks (23) than any other team at the World Cup, ahead of runners-up England (20). Meanwhile, the Lionesses were the only side to better Spain's 92 sequences of 10 or more passes, recording 100.

Barcelona and Spain midfielder Alexia Putellas took home a second straight Ballon d'Or Feminin award on Monday to become the first two-time winner.

Putellas was recognised in 2021 after winning the Champions League with Barca, before returning to the final this year.

The Blaugrana this time came up short, losing to Lyon, but Putellas finished as the competition's top scorer and Player of the Season.

She was then denied the opportunity to feature at the Women's Euro 2022 after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament on the eve of the finals.

Despite missing the tournament, while three of her four fellow Ballon d'Or finalists featured, Putellas was named the world's best player by France Football again in Paris.

Beth Mead, who inspired England's Euros triumph, finished second, but Putellas was a popular winner and gave an emotional speech as she reflected on a tough period in her career.

"Thanks to France Football and the members of the jury," she said. "On April 5, I broke my knee and I believed that this [winning the Ballon d'Or] would not be possible, because I believed that the most recent European Championship would be remembered.

"My most sincere congratulations to the English FA for the organisation they had for the European Championship and how they are having that impact on women's football in that country. They are an example of how they are doing it.

"I hope that the next time I have to speak, it will be on the pitch again, and I hope that we will see each other again there."

Germany's Euro 2022 star Alexandra Popp has committed her future to Wolfsburg, signing a new three-year contract with the Frauen Bundesliga champions.

The Germany striker found the net six times throughout the tournament as Die Nationalelf finished as runners-up to Sarina Wiegman's Lionesses, finishing as joint-top scorer with England's Beth Mead, though Mead won the award after recording more assists.

Popp, who has been with Wolfsburg since 2012, has lifted 18 domestic and three European titles during her career, but missed Germany's 2-1 Wembley final defeat last month after getting injured in the warm-up.

She became the first player to score in five consecutive games at a Women's Euros by helping herself to a brace in Germany's semi-final win over France, later being named in the team of the tournament.

Popp, who had just one year to run on her previous deal, told the club's website: "I'm very pleased to be held in such high esteem and I'm extremely happy at VfL Wolfsburg.

"When I look back on the last few years, it's clear I'm at the best club in Germany. I can also see the outstanding quality in our team. It's great fun for me to perform with these girls on and off the pitch and to fight for more silverware."

Wolfsburg finished four points clear of Bayern Munich to win the domestic title last season, and were beaten by eventual champions Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Women's Champions League.

Chelsea and Germany goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger has revealed she has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer for a second time and will begin treatment this week.

Berger was initially diagnosed in November 2017 during her time with Birmingham City, but made a full recovery and was subsequently named in the PFA Team of the Year.

However, the 31-year-old said on Tuesday that after four years being cancer-free, a recurrence has been detected in her thyroid.

"I've said before that as a sportsperson, you have to fight every day to be the best you can be and that's something I will continue to do," she said in a statement.

"I hope by sharing my journey I can help others that find themselves in a similar situation.

"I am working closely with my club doctor and specialist in London, and my treatment will start this week.

"I remain positive that my treatment will be as effective as last time, and I'm looking forward to returning to the pitch and seeing you all at Kingsmeadow and Stamford Bridge."

Berger has played a key role between the sticks for Chelsea in their Women's Super League triumphs of the past three seasons.

The former Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper, who won the WSL's golden glove in 2020-21, was also part of the Germany squad that reached the Euro 2022 final last month.

Beth Mead, Lena Oberdorf and Alexia Putellas have been announced as the final three contenders in the running to win the 2022 UEFA Women's Player of the Year accolade.

The trio had been named on the initial shortlist of 22 players, which has now been whittled down to just three names ahead of next week's award ceremony in Istanbul.

Arsenal attacker Mead is rewarded for an impressive showing at the Women's Euros, where she was crowned Player of the Tournament after leading the scoring charts in England's triumph on home soil.

Oberdorf won the Young Player of the Tournament award after helping Germany to another final, having also played a crucial role in Wolfsburg winning the domestic double last season.

Spain star Putellas was absent from the tournament through injury, but the 2021 Ballon d'Or Feminin winner enjoyed the most prolific season of her club career thanks to 34 goals in Barcelona's clean sweep of Spanish trophies in 2021-22.

Wolfsburg and Germany striker Alex Popp narrowly missed out on the top three, while Aitana Bonmati of Barcelona and Spain finished fifth in the voting.

UEFA also announced the Women's Coach of the Year nominees on Wednesday, with England coach Sarina Wiegman joined by Sonia Bompastor and Martina Voss-Tecklenburg of Lyon and Germany respectively.

England's triumph at Euro 2022 was "inspirational" and the tournament showcased the significant improvement of women's football, according to Finland great Laura Kalmari.

Sarina Wiegman's Lionesses ended 56 years of major tournament hurt for England with a 2-1 victory over Germany last month, with Chloe Kelly's close-range finish in extra time proving decisive in front of 87,192 people at Wembley Stadium, setting a new attendance record for any European Championship match (men or women).

England scored 22 goals throughout the tournament – also a record for a men's or women's European Championship – as they sparkled on home soil, while Wiegman became the first coach to lift the trophy with two different sides after triumphing with the Netherlands in 2017.  

Speaking exclusively to Stats Perform ahead of Wednesday's Super Cup between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt in Helsinki, Kalmari lauded England's achievements. 

"It was a very big tournament, and it has been amazing. England did very well, they had the crown. Very inspirational to the young boys and women," Kalmari said.

"England were very good, and you can see the results they have done in the country. Many club teams are working for the players and that is the result, that you become a top country."

UEFA revealed after the final that a total of 574,875 fans attended matches throughout the tournament, smashing the previous record of 240,055 set at the 2017 finals.

The tournament has been praised as a potential landmark moment for the women's game, an assessment with which Kalmari agrees.

"It was just an amazing tournament," she added. "The level of the games has developed very much. You see all the countries getting better all the time.  

"We need to show it to more people and keep going with our hard work.

"Equal game means that everybody has the same opportunity, that we don't think it is a boys' or girls' game. Everyone has to have the same opportunity to be what they want to be."

Having made 130 appearances for Finland between 1996 and 2011, scoring 41 times, Kalmari is among the most decorated players in her country's history, but insists she is not envious of the those playing at a time of increased recognition for the women's game.

"[I'm] not jealous, I am so happy that it is going further. It takes time, but I know that it is very important to win a strong battle and now we are starting to see the results in so many countries," she added. 

"So many countries are working so hard for women's football and so many clubs, and you can see the results are there."

England Women have rocketed to fourth place in the FIFA rankings after winning Euro 2022 – but they still trail Sweden and Germany, two of the teams they beat on the way to glory.

The list continues to be headed by World Cup winners the United States, who are due to face England in an October friendly at Wembley.

Germany climb above Sweden to take over second place after reaching the European final, but the Swedes hold a narrow lead over England.

That is despite England thrashing Sweden 4-0 in the semi-finals of the Women's Euros, before going on to beat Germany 2-1 after extra time in the final.

England were eighth in the rankings prior to winning the European title for the first time but have vaulted above France, the Netherlands, Canada and Spain.

Sarina Wiegman, who led the Netherlands to Euro 2017 glory, repeated the feat this year as manager of England and is set to be offered an improved contract by the Football Association ahead of the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Brazil remain ninth after winning the Copa America Femenina, beating Colombia in the final, while Women's Africa Cup of Nations champions South Africa nudged up four places to 54th on the list.

Germany dominated the team of the tournament for the Women's Euro 2022 despite losing 2-1 to England in Sunday's Wembley final.

Both teams had won every match en route to a highly anticipated decider at England's national stadium in front of a record crowd for a European Championship match, with 87,192 in attendance.

An extra-time winner from Chloe Kelly proved the difference as the Lionesses claimed their first major title, dealing rivals Germany their first defeat in nine Women's Euros finals.

Beth Mead was forced off in the final but had still done enough to be named player of the tournament, also edging the top scorer award on assists ahead of Alexandra Popp – who missed the match following an injury in the warm-up.

Yet there was room for both superstar performers in the official team of the tournament.

Mead was among four England players, with goalkeeper Mary Earps, captain Leah Williamson and midfielder pass master Keira Walsh each also recognised.

Meanwhile, Germany had five players included; along with Popp, defenders Giulia Gwinn and Martina Hegering made the cut, as did young player of the tournament Lena Oberdorf.

Next to Mead and Popp in the front three was Klara Buhl, even though coronavirus kept her out of both the semi-finals and the final.

France were beaten by Germany in the last four and were represented by defender Sakina Karchaoui, while Spain lost to both finalists but still had Aitana Bonmati make the XI.

Women's Euro 2022 team of the tournament:

Mary Earps (England); Giulia Gwinn (Germany), Leah Williamson (England), Martina Hegering (Germany), Sakina Karchaoui (France); Keira Walsh (England), Lena Oberdorf (Germany), Aitana Bonmati (Spain); Beth Mead (England), Alexandra Popp (Germany), Klara Buhl (Germany).

The Queen led tributes to England's Euro 2022 winners after Sarina Wiegman led the Lionesses to a momentous 2-1 victory over Germany at Wembley.

It gave England's women a breakthrough moment and led to acclaim from across football and far beyond, with Harry Kane, Boris Johnson and David Baddiel among those joining in the celebrations.

Baddiel famously joined fellow comic Frank Skinner and indie band the Lightning Seeds in creating the 1996 Three Lions hit song, with the 'It's coming home...' lyric weighing heavily for over a quarter of a century.

In a letter to the England team, The Queen said they would serve as inspirational figures for generations to come.

She wrote: "My warmest congratulations, and those of my family, go to you all on winning the European Women's Football Championships.

"It is a significant achievement for the entire team, including your support staff.  The championships and your performance in them have rightly won praise.

"However, your success goes far beyond the trophy you have so deservedly earned. You have all set an example that will be an inspiration for girls and women today, and for future generations.

"It is my hope that you will be as proud of the impact you have had on your sport as you are of the result today."

England men's captain Harry Kane, whose side were beaten on penalties by Italy at Wembley in last year's European Championship final, said the scenes this time around were "absolutely unreal".

The striker spared high praise for Ella Toone, whose precise lob gave England a 1-0 lead in the 62nd minute, saying the Manchester United forward should "take a bow for that finish".

His England colleague Raheem Sterling hailed the group as "history-makers". Kane and Sterling will be among the England team targeting World Cup glory later this year.

Former England defender Gary Neville called it "a seismic moment for sport in this country" while outgoing Prime Minister Johnson said it was a "stunning victory".

Gary Lineker, who reached the World Cup semi-finals with England in 1990 and won the Golden Boot at the 1986 tournament, harked back to a famous comment he once made about German success.

Appropriating it for the Lionesses, he wrote: "Football is a simple game. 22 women chase a ball for 90 minutes and, at the end, England actually win."

The Three Lions anthem might have to be retired now that England have triumphed on such a major stage.

Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds have had good mileage out of that summer smash hit, from back when England hosted the men's Euro 96 tournament.

Baddiel wrote on Sunday evening: "It's come home. A sentence I thought I'd never write. I've gone. Thank you Lionesses."

Sarina Wiegman paid tribute to the players, who interrupted her media conference, and the staff as she celebrated guiding England to success in the Women's European Championship final.

The Lionesses overcame Germany 2-1 after extra-time at Wembley, with substitutes Ella Toone and Chloe Kelly scoring either side of Lina Magull's equaliser.

The win means that Wiegman has won back-to-back Euros, having lifted the 2017 trophy while in charge of her native Netherlands.

Speaking at a media conference after the trophy celebrations, Wiegman said: "What we have done is really incredible. I didn't follow everything [in the media] but I knew that England was behind us.

"Over the tournament we have had so much support from our fans. I am so proud of the team, the staff, and the support at The FA."

Wiegman has won all 12 of her matches in charge at the Women's Euros, with her teams scoring 35 goals and conceding just five in the process.

She was asked what made the difference in what had been a tight game at Wembley Stadium, but before she could answer she was interrupted by the entire England squad coming into the room and dancing around, singing "Football's coming home".

After composing herself, Wiegman was asked if football had come home, to which she replied: "We won the cup, I guess 'home' is in Switzerland [UEFA HQ] or wherever."

She also revealed her celebration tipple, saying: "For the first time in years I had a beer. I don't [usually] like it but I drank it, and I liked it too."

Wiegman added that she would need some time to process that she has won two Euros tournaments, and also revealed that she kissed her wrist after the win as a tribute to her late sister, before crediting her for Germany hitting the woodwork in the second half.

"After we had the trophy, I thought 'this is really incredible'… I think I need some time to realise [winning two in a row].

"The armband on my wrist, it was my sister's, who passed away… I think she was here and she was on the crossbar."

The Lionesses manager also revealed what is next for her European champions, saying: "First, we are going to party.

"We should be really proud of ourselves, the development of this game has gone so fast that many countries could win this tournament. Germany, France, Spain, Sweden, even more countries. So it's not easy to win this tournament.

"Now it’s time to party, have some time off, then prepare for the World Cup qualifiers and go again."

Germany head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg was not happy with the decision not to award her team a penalty in their Women's European Championship final defeat to England at Wembley Stadium.

The Lionesses made history on Sunday with their 2-1 win in extra-time, winning their first major trophy for the women's team.

However, Germany were denied a penalty in the first-half when a goalmouth scramble appeared to see the ball hit an England hand, but a VAR check waved away the claims.

Speaking at a media conference after the game, Voss-Tecklenburg said: "First half, possession was better for England so they put more pressure on us, we got a few free-kicks that sometimes lacked courage, but we managed to have some attacks.

"There was a situation at 0-0 where there was a clear handball in the penalty area. The VAR looked but didn't award it. In such a game it's difficult to cope with that. Why didn't the referee look? That hurts a bit."

The German coach was still proud of her team's efforts, as they forced extra-time thanks to a Lina Magull equaliser.

"We wanted to play courageously in the second half, challenge the defence more and play with a high press. We did very well at the beginning of the half, but when we actually had the ball more, we conceded the [first] goal.

"We equalised and got to extra-time. Losing 2-1 was a bit unlucky, so maybe the penalty was decisive.

"We congratulate England, deserved champions. If you score two against Germany you deserve it."

Voss-Tecklenburg's plans were thrown into chaos when star striker and captain Alexandra Popp withdrew from the starting XI before kick-off.

She explained that Popp, who scored six goals in the tournament, had picked up a knock in training on Saturday and tried to play, but admitted in the warm-up that she could not shoot.

"We tried everything," the Germany boss explained. "Yesterday we got a surprise at the end of the final training that there were some problems. We didn't expect that.

"Yesterday evening we thought about it and medical staff tried everything. She was better this morning but it was clear that she had to agree, so I trusted her, and when she said during the warm-up she felt something, couldn't shoot, I had high respect to her to say she won't play in a final. She has a great personality."

Voss-Tecklenburg pointed to the noise in Wembley, saying the crowd of 87,192 – a new attendance record for the Euros, men or women – had an impact on her team.

"It was incredibly loud, difficult to communicate, but this will help us in future," she said.

"We gave our all, not everything worked, but all the fight and energy we gave was nice. Sad [to lose] and I cannot find the right words to say to the team. I just have to process it.

"Maybe tomorrow or after I will have a different feeling about it."

Captain Leah Williamson described England's Euro 2022 final victory over Germany as "the proudest moment of my life".

A gripping showpiece at Wembley on Sunday saw England scrape a 2-1 victory after extra time, with substitutes Ella Toone and Chloe Kelly getting the goals for the hosts.

Williamson lifted the trophy as a record crowd of 87,192 saluted the first-time champions, who have been steered to glory by Sarina Wiegman, the manager who led the Netherlands to the win the European Championship five years ago.

"I just can't stop crying," said Williamson in a pitchside BBC interview.

"We talk and we talk and we talk, and we finally do it. It's about doing it on the pitch, and I tell you what – the kids are all right!

"It's the proudest moment of my life until the day I have kids I suppose, so I'm going to lap it up.

"I was advised to take in every single second because you're going to want to relive it over and over, and I'll be reliving that for a long time.

"The legacy of this tournament is the change in society. It's everything that we've done. We've brought everybody together. We've got people at games, and we want them to come to WSL [Women's Super League] games, but the legacy of this team is winners and that's the start of a journey.

"I love every single one of them. I'm so proud to be English."

As England celebrated their finest hour, Lionesses legend Alex Scott revealed top clubs in England had refused to allow their stadiums to be used for the European finals, and said any johnny-come-lately sponsorship hopefuls had probably already missed the boat.

Scott and Ian Wright, both working as pundits, spoke of their hopes for how the women's game could continue to grow, with Wright making an impassioned plea for those charmed by the England team over the past four weeks to get out to club games.

And Scott, a member of the England team who lost 6-2 to Germany in the Euro 2009 final, took a swipe at those who in her view had done women's football no favours.

Scott: "Let's remind ourselves that in 2018 we were begging people to host in their stadiums a women's game for this Euros. So many people said no. I hope you're all looking at yourselves right now because you weren't brave enough.

"I'm not standing up at corporate events in front of sponsors any more begging for them to get involved in the women's game, because you know what, if you're not involved you've missed the boat, you've missed the train. Because look at this: it has finally left the station, and it is gathering speed."

Beth Mead was named player of the tournament and won the Golden Boot, pipping Alexandra Popp on an assists tie-breaker after they finished level on six goals. Popp missed the final through injury.

But it was not Mead who was the hero in the final, as England's substitutes stepped up again.

Toone, who lobbed in a brilliant opening goal, is among the young players set to play a huge part in the future of the England side.

The 22-year-old Manchester United forward said of Sunday's success: "It doesn't seem real. I'm absolutely buzzing my head off.

"It's the best moment of my career, the best moment of my life ever. I'm absolutely on top of the world and I'm so proud to do it with these girls."

England fans have been singing about football "coming home" since 1996, when the country hosted the men's European Championship.

Terry Venables' team were ultimately eliminated in the semi-finals at Wembley Stadium by Germany in heartbreaking fashion on penalties. Gareth Southgate, who until now had come close than any other manager to ending England's long wait for glory, missed the crucial spot-kick.

More than 26 years on, Sarina Wiegman's women's team had a chance to finally bring it "home", and it came against Germany, naturally.

This time, they had that extra gear to overcome a setback, and ended 66 years of hurt with a 2-1 success.

England's men reached the final of Euro 2020 last year, losing on penalties to Italy, but that day had been marred by crowd issues before the match at Wembley.

There was no sign of such issues on Sunday. The only clouds hanging over Wembley before this game were in the sky.

Wiegman has secured back-to-back European Championships, having also won with the Netherlands in 2017, and rubber-stamped the immense improvement she has brought to the Lionesses since replacing Phil Neville.

That this win came a day after Neville's Inter Miami had surrendered a 3-2 lead in the last 10 mins to draw 4-4 in a Major League Soccer match felt appropriate. England are a far superior machine to the one Neville led, and one with a better depth of quality, with both goals coming from substitutes.

Both teams were set to go in unchanged until Germany suffered a blow when captain Alexandra Popp sustained a muscle injury in the warm-up.

It was agonising for Popp, who went into the game as joint-top scorer in the tournament with six goals, but needed to net more than Beth Mead (also six) to take the Golden Boot due to the England star's superior assist record.

Popp's absence seemed to have an impact as Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's side struggled to threaten, though Mead did not have much impact on the game herself, rarely seeing any of the ball close to the German goal before coming off with a knock just after the hour.

Ellen White again started over Alessia Russo, despite the latter having scored twice as many (four to two) from the bench during the tournament, but White's work rate and harrying was on show in a first half of few chances.

Germany's best opportunity came courtesy of a chaotic goalmouth scramble in 25th minute that also resulted in a rejected VAR check for a penalty, while White blazed over from England's most dangerous attack.

Lina Magull dragged wide as Germany clicked into gear after the restart, and the biggest roar of the day by that point came when Ella Toone and Russo were introduced for Fran Kirby and White.

The greater cheer had been for Russo, whose four goals from the bench during the tournament was the most a player has scored at a single edition of a Women's Euros, but it was Toone who upped those decibel levels though as she ran onto a ball over the top from Keira Walsh before expertly lifting over Merle Frohms.

Toone became the first opposition player to score against Germany at the tournament, though DFB-Frauen almost hit straight back when Magull hit the woodwork.

Magull did have her goal with 11 minutes remaining though. Neat work on the right side saw the ball slid across by Tabea Wassmuth for the German number 20, who lifted her shot into the roof of the net to dampen England spirits and force extra-time in a Women's Euros final for the first time since 2001. On that occasion, Germany beat Sweden 1-0.

A familiar feeling for England. Extra-time... penalties... valiant defeat. But this team is different.

Chloe Kelly – who had replaced Mead – was the hero, prodding home at the second attempt after Germany failed to clear their lines. A brief wait to make sure the flag had not gone up was followed by uproarious celebrations. Football was through the gate, coming up the garden path...

Kelly's goal was England's 22nd of the tournament, a record by a team at any European Championship (men's and women's), and this time the hosts could see it out, the players either falling to their knees or running around the pitch as the magnitude of their achievement hit.

The first senior England team to win a major tournament since 1966, the first to ever win a European Championship, and the first to beat Germany in a Women's Euros final.

The 87,192 inside Wembley – a new attendance record for the Euros, men or women – immediately broke out into a rendition of Three Lions, informing those in any doubt that football was finally "home".

England have the trophy, but it is safe to say that during this historic tournament, women's football has most certainly been the winner. It came home for everyone.

England match-winner Chloe Kelly described the 2-1 victory over Germany in Sunday's Euro 2022 final as "what dreams are made of".

The Lionesses made history with a breakthrough triumph at Wembley, delivering a first major trophy win for England's women's team.

England were thrashed 6-2 by Germany in the Euro 2009 final, but it was far tighter this time around, with goals from substitutes Ella Toone and Kelly making all the difference.

Kelly, the 24-year-old Manchester City striker who suffered an ACL knee injury 14 months ago, poked in a 110th-minute winner after the tournament finale went to extra time.

"Honestly, it's amazing. This is what dreams are made of. As a young girl watching women's football, now this, it's unbelievable," Kelly told BBC Sport.

"Thank you to everyone who has played a part in my rehab. I always believed I would be here, but to be here and score the winner, wow.

"These girls are special, the manager is special, what an amazing group of staff. This is amazing. I just want to celebrate now."

Manager Sarina Wiegman won this tournament with her native Netherlands five years ago, which led the English Football Association to her door.

Wiegman's arrival last year has been crucial to the development of this group of England players, forging a squad where the self-belief has been clear for all to see.

"You mention we brought football home. We won the cup. It's incredible," Wiegman said.

"If you really want to win, really want to become better every single day, that's what I have noticed the whole year. It's just incredible, they want to be together. We agreed on a couple of things about behaviour, and they weren't just words, we lived it, and this is the result."

Wiegman said a few crucial words to her players before extra time, and she was not worried that there was "a little bit of fighting" as the game became scrappy late.

"Who cares, we won 2-1 and we are European champions," Wiegman said.

"I don't have any secrets. I just don't think I realise what's going on, I'll need some time."

Chloe Kelly and Ella Toone wrote themselves into English football history as Sarina Wiegman's brilliant Lionesses beat Germany 2-1 after extra time in a tension-packed Euro 2022 final.

Toone put England in front at Wembley with a classy finish in the 62nd minute, but Germany stung the hosts when Lina Magull equalised with 11 minutes left of normal time.

It became the first Women's Euros final since 2001 to go to extra time. Germany beat Sweden with a late goal 21 years ago, scooping their fifth title, and they have since added three more.

But Kelly ensured there would not be a ninth at England's national stadium, poking in a 110th-minute winner, tearing off her shirt and sprinting away in celebration. England had never won a senior European Championship, but after the men's team went agonisingly close last year, the women, led by skipper Leah Williamson, have gone one better.

Germany suffered a devastating blow moments before kick-off when captain and six-goal top scorer Alexandra Popp was ruled out by a muscle injury, but they were robust without her.

England's Ellen White and Germany's Sara Daebritz threatened in the early stages, before the hosts had their best chance of a physical first half in the 38th minute when Beth Mead's cutback from the right was fired just over the bar by White.

Germany substitute Tabea Wassmuth, on from the start of the second half, drew a save from Mary Earps with a shot from a difficult angle. Magull then speared narrowly wide as England's defence looked increasingly jittery.

Yet then came a breakthrough, with manager Wiegman having sacrificed the experienced White and Fran Kirby for young guns Toone and Alessia Russo. Both had hit crucial goals coming off the bench to help England reach the final, and this time it was Toone with the heroics.

Keira Walsh looked up to see Toone on the charge and threaded a terrific pass beyond the German backline, Toone keeping her cool to lob Frohms from the edge of the penalty area.

Germany almost struck back when Magull, coming in from the right, crashed a shot against the right post, while England lost Mead to injury, meaning she and Popp shared the Golden Boot.

The warning signs had been there, and Magull levelled in the 79th minute when she tucked home Wassmuth's low cross from the right.

In extra time, tension and tiredness took over, each team desperate for just one chance. And in the 110th minute, one fell to Kelly. Lauren Hemp's inswinging corner from the right caused chaos, and Kelly prodded in from close range. England briefly thought it had been disallowed, but it was fine, and Wembley roared. This time it was coming home.

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