England kept their bid to secure Olympics qualification for Great Britain alive in dramatic fashion as Ella Toone’s stoppage-time goal completed a fightback from two goals down to beat the Netherlands 3-2 at Wembley.
Needing a win to remain in contention to finish top in Nations League Group A1, the final position required for them to have a chance of obtaining a place for GB at next summer’s Games in Paris, the Lionesses were on course for a third defeat in the pool as Lineth Beerensteyn notched a first-half brace for the Dutch.
But Sarina Wiegman’s side battled back with two goals in quick succession from Georgia Stanway and Lauren Hemp around the hour mark, before substitute Toone capped the turnaround in the first minute of time added on to bring a huge roar from the 71,632 crowd in attendance.
It leaves England in second place, level on points with the Netherlands and one in front of Belgium, ahead of concluding their group matches by playing Scotland at Hampden Park on Tuesday. Belgium drew 1-1 with Scotland in Friday’s other Group A1 contest.
England and the Dutch are also level in terms of head-to-head record, with the latter – who face Belgium at home next week – having a goal difference superior by three.
Knowing it was win or bust, England made a lively start, with Lauren James and Chloe Kelly sending headers off target and Hemp – on her 50th appearance for the team – bringing a fine save out of Daphne van Domselaar with an 11th-minute shot.
But moments later they were behind as Victoria Pelova played a ball from the right to Beerensteyn, who got away from Bronze and Jess Carter and struck beyond Mary Earps, England’s captain in the absence of the injured Millie Bright.
The Netherlands almost had a second in the 24th minute when Jill Roord lofted an effort that came back off the bar.
After James and Dutch skipper Sherida Spitse hit attempts too high, the visitors then did double their lead as Carter failed to intercept a bouncing ball and Beerensteyn seized upon it and hit a low shot.
Earps dived and got her glove to the ball, only to see it slip past her and trickle in – something that left her beating the turf in frustration.
England’s attempts to hit back before the interval saw Kelly drill wide, a James shot gathered by Van Domselaar and Bronze miss with a header.
Wiegman reacted at the break by taking off Kelly and introducing Beth Mead for her England return, just over a year after suffering an ACL injury, before the push continued with James looping a shot into the stand.
🏴0-1 🇳🇱🏴0-2🇳🇱 🏴1-2🇳🇱 🏴2-2 🇳🇱
— UEFA Women's Nations League (@WEURO) December 1, 2023
England were then swiftly back on level terms thanks to a quickfire double as Stanway headed home from a James delivery in the 58th minute, then teed up Hemp’s strike from the edge of the box two minutes later.
As Wiegman’s team hunted a winner, Mead headed wide and Toone – brought on in the 68th minute – saw a shot deflect off Caitlin Dijkstra, before Earps denied Lieke Martens.
It seemed England’s efforts were destined to end in vain, but soon after, with the contest having entered stoppage time, James sent a delivery to the far post, Toone slotted in and Wembley erupted.