‘Am I in a fairytale?’ – Sarina Wiegman reacts as England reach Women’s World Cup final

Sarina Wiegman was left asking “am I in a fairytale?” after England booked their place in the 2023 Women’s World Cup final with a 3-1 win over Australia.

Goals from Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo saw the Lionesses to victory and set up an encounter with Spain in Sunday’s final.

It will be the Lionesses’ maiden World Cup final appearance but for Wiegman it is her second in as many tournaments, after the Netherlands finished runners-up to the USWNT in France four years ago. It is the Dutch manager’s fourth consecutive major tournament final appearance and she will become the first manager to win the Women’s World Cup with two different sides should England emerge victorious against Spain.

“I don’t know,” Wiegman told BBC Sport when asked how she had done it. “I just said to (England assistant coach) Arjan (Veurink), the chance that as a coach or as a player you make it to finals is really special. And we’ve made it to four already! I’d never take anything for granted but am I in a little fairytale or something?”


England beat Australia: The World Cup final awaits – instant analysis

England led through Toone’s first-half strike before Sam Kerr opened her account for the tournament with an effort from range shortly after the hour mark to level the scores.

The Lionesses rallied again, Hemp latching onto a searching Millie Bright pass and capitalising on an Ellie Carpenter error to restore England’s lead.

Hemp turned provider to put the game beyond the co-hosts as her pass was turned home by Russo.

“It’s unbelievable,” Wiegman said. “It feels like we won it, but we didn’t win it, but we won this game. It’s an incredible stadium, an away game, the way we played of course it was a hard game but we found a way to win.

“You’ve been talking about ruthlessness all the time. I think in this team there’s ruthlessness, whether that’s up front or defence, we really want to keep the ball out of the net, we really want to win. We stick together and we stick to the plan and it worked again.”

England play fellow World Cup final debutants Spain at Stadium Australia on Sunday.

‘The mentality of this team is something I’ve never seen before’

England headed into the 2023 World Cup as one of the pre-tournament favourites following last summer’s European Championship triumph. However, they have been without four members of the starting XI from last summer’s Euro 2022 final following injuries to Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Fran Kirby and Ellen White’s retirement.

Wiegman, famed for fielding the same starting XI in all six of England’s fixtures at the Euros, has switched it up this summer, shuffling personnel and changing formation after two group games.

Bright, who has captained the side in Williamson’s absence, praised England’s mentality and adaptability.

“It’s a moment we’ve wanted for so long,” the defender told BBC Sport. “We had an amazing success last summer but we always knew there was something missing and it’s always been the World Cup. Now to have that opportunity is incredible. The dream remains alive, yet again we’ve found a way. What an incredible semi final.

“I’ve said it a million times and I’ll continue saying it, the mentality of this team is something I’ve never seen before. I think that comes from Sarina as well the belief she gives us. We can play many different ways, I think that’s the beauty of this squad. Whatever an opponent throws at us we adapt, we find a way to win and I’m just really proud of the girls.”

How Spain got to the World Cup final

Spain made a fine start to the tournament, hammering Costa Rica and Zambia 3-0 and 5-0 respectively, but they then suffered a shock defeat by Japan in their final group game.

That loss meant they finished second in Group C, setting up a knockout match with Switzerland. But the Spaniards roared back into form, thumping their fellow Europeans 5-1.

They then took on the Netherlands, winning 2-1 in extra time, before beating Sweden — conquerors of the USWNT — to secure their place in a Women’s World Cup final for the first time.

How England got to the World Cup final

England made smooth progress through the group stage, beating both Haiti and Denmark 1-0 before turning on the style against China. They won 6-1 to top Group D.

But they were made to sweat in the round of 16 against a stubborn Nigeria, particularly after Lauren James saw red for a stamp. But they clung on and prevailed on penalties.

They also had to work hard against Colombia, falling behind for the first time in the tournament. But they battled back to win 2-1 and then overcame the host nation Australia to reach the final.

(Photo: Alex Pantling – FIFA via Getty Images)

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top