England 2 Spain 1 (AET): Georgia Stanway’s SCREAMER sends Amex wild as Lionesses roar into Euro 2022 semis in thriller

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GEORGIA STANWAY’S stunner saved England’s Euro hopes – by the skin of their teeth as Lionesses roar into Euro 2022 semis by defeating Spain.

Up until 84 minutes, things hadn’t gone according to plan for Sarina Wiegman’s high-flying side.

After all THIS was supposed to be England’s moment. 

A home tournament, a shiny new manager, record goals and attendances to watch the Lionesses hunt for an elusive first-ever major trophy.

All they had to do was get past Spain, who had never won a knock-out game at a major tournament and had lost their two best players, all-time top scorer Jennifer Hermoso and Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas.

But Jorge Vilda’s party poopers made the Lionesses look like kittens with Esther Gonzalez’s 54th-minute opener so very nearly sinking the hosts.

When all hope was almost lost it took in Manchester United’s magicians Ella Toone and Russo to combine in the dying minutes to resurrect England and send the tie to extra-time. 

Then Barrow-born Stanway had nerves of steel to crack in a thunderbolt strike for the winner on 96 minutes to stretch England’s redhot unbeaten run to 18 games. 

It spared England and Wiegman’s blushes, given they have reached the semi-finals of the last three major tournaments.  

The hosts were boosted by their gaffer being back on the touchline after a nervous wait to see if she would test negative for Covid-19 having picked up the virus last week.

She named the same starting XI for all the Euros games so far to keep “rhythm and consistency”.

The ex-Netherlands boss had previously found so much joy from the pretty passing sequences between Bronze, Stanway, Mead and White – but Spain were having none of it. 

It was no surprise the visitors had the first real chance with Olga Carmona breaking free on the left-flank to send a dipping and curling shot at Earps. 

The likes of Gonzalez and Mariona Caldentey were also snapping at their heels and ready to pounce when the Lionesses looked sleepy.

The Amex finally roused when Arsenal forward Mead won an inviting free-kick on nine minutes. 

She stood over it and whipped a dipping and curling effort beautifully onto White’s noggin, but her header pinged wildly in the opposite direction. 

The visitors hit back again, this time with Maria Caldentey stinging the hands of Earps with a long-range effort.

Mastermind Wiegman smelled danger and went back to the drawing board, swapping Mead onto the left and Hemp out right.

It finally got the wheels turning and Mead won another free-kick on 36 minutes. 

She stepped up and teed up England all-time top-scorer White who lashed it with venom into the net – but the flag went up due to an offside from Bronze in the build up and VAR concurred.

England, who must have felt the wrath of Wiegman at half-time, looked pumped up after the restart with Mead’s twinkle toes winning yet another free-kick. 

But they were made to wait when a Stop Oil protester stormed on to the pitch and attempted to attach himself to Earps’ goal before he was tackled by security and escorted out. 

When the free-kick did finally come in, a foul on Mapi Leon halted proceedings and England were back to square one.

It felt like Spain’s opener had been brewing on 54 minutes having prodded and poked at the Lionesses all game. 

It all began with substitute Athenea Del Castillo of Spain who had been electric since coming on at the break. 

She shimmied beyond Rachel Daly way too easily before teeing up Esther Gonzalez to fire a low drive into the bottom corner.

Wiegman had seen enough and made a huge call in hauling off the tournament’s top scorer Mead for Chloe Kelly and White for Alessia Russo on 58 minutes.

Shortly after Toone entered the fray for Kirby in a desperate bid for a precious equaliser. 

Spain only looked more dangerous and jaws hit the deck when Del Castillo outmuscled Daly yet again to crack a looping shot over Earps – who did brilliantly to save it.

England responded and peppered Spain’s goal with a string of chances before Lauren Hemp pounced on a loose ball but fired over. 

The visitors swaggered back up the other end sparked a desperate scramble up the other end with Leah Williamson making a crucial block to keep it at 1-0.

Finally Wiegman ended Daly’s torture and hauled her off for Alex Greenwood to shore things up on England’s left flank.

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