F*ck Chloe Kelly’s goal, her sublime sh*thousery won England the Euros

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England's Chloe Kelly celebrates scoring during the Womens Euro 2022 Final v Germany at Wembley Stadium, London, UK. 31st July, 2022. Credit: PA Images
England's Chloe Kelly celebrates scoring during the Womens Euro 2022 Final v Germany at Wembley Stadium, London, UK. 31st July, 2022. Credit: PA Images

Goals change games, but they don’t win them. Not exactly. And if you want someone to back that statement up, ask England‘s Euro 2022 hero Chloe Kelly.

You’ve already seen it by now. If you’re anything like us, you’ve re-watched it 100 times. In a beautifully visceral moment of predatorial forward play, she turned, swung a leg at the ball and then poked it home at the second opportunity.

It unfolded in slow motion. It was greeted by the most heart-felt of Wembley roars. But it was not a goal to win the game, it was a goal to put England ahead.

They had already been there before. Just 30 minutes before. A goal ahead – that masterpiece carved by Keira Walsh and polished by Ella Toone – and 10 minutes away from becoming European champions.

Yet Germany’s Lina Magull had equalised and every England fan watching had had that sickening, pit-of-the-stomach sensation: Germany, Wembley, extra time then penalties; more predictable than a Marvel film.

Those uneasy England fans had not considered one woman, though. One woman who had come on for Player of the Tournament Beth Mead with 26 minutes of normal time remaining and who was not letting this opportunity pass. Not a chance.

All the newspaper column inches and radio guff about ‘even if they lose, this England team have achieved something special’? Chloe Kelly had heard it. She’d heard it and thought ‘fuck that, there’s a trophy to win’.

So here they were again, a goal ahead and 10 minutes away from glory. There was still time for Germany to equalise again. To delve deep into the realm of cliche; they never know when they’re beaten, the Germans. Mostly because it doesn’t happen all that often, especially on the European stage. Not sure if you’ve heard; they’ve won this thing eight times.

But this time – their ninth final – they were about to get familiar with a feeling that has been England’s so often. Not just because of Kelly’s goal, but because of what she did next.

Sitting on the bench for the opening 64 minutes, Kelly had seen Germany rough England up repeatedly while the referee ran around seeing absolutely none of it, instead sporadically waving her arms and blowing her whistle like a Glastonbury hippy on an acid trip.

England were in danger of being out-shithoused in a Euro final, like another England team had been so thoroughly out-shithoused on the same stage a year prior.

Kelly was having none of it. She came on and embarked on a one-woman mission to turn the tables. England were ahead and she knew what needed to be done. To the corner she pointed, and to the corner England went.

Five minutes left of normal time in extra time and England won a throw right in that corner, thanks to Kelly. Lucy Bronze took it, Kelly controlled it, Giulia Gwinn came up behind her.

The slightest hint of contact and Kelly hit the deck like she’d been flattened by an Audi Q7. This time the ref saw it. Kelly made sure of that.

From the resulting free-kick, Kelly turned and burst towards the goal. But of course she was just having us on. She turned again and jigged merrily back towards the corner flag, running away from the German defenders like the best player on the playground. ‘You can’t catch me, ner ner na ner ner.’

Two minutes later, England won a corner as Alessia Russo’s shot was tipped over by Merle Frohms. Kelly knew what to do again. Short corner, protect the ball.

Svenja Huth gave Kelly a kick but won the throw for Germany. Rather than get back into her shape, though, Kelly squared up to Huth. The crowd whooped in delight.

Just after the German throw-in that followed, Huth booted the ball into touch for another England throw. Rattled? Just a bit.

Thirty seconds of normal time in extra time to go. The point when, in most circumstances, the commentator would say, ‘There’ll be one more chance for Germany.’

And normally there would be one more chance. But there wasn’t. Why? Chloe Kelly, of course.

She pointed to the corner flag again, this time playing the ball to Alessia Russo. Russo somehow carved out an England throw. Kelly embraced her team-mate and grinned like cage football’s answer to the Chesire Cat.

Then stoppage time in extra time. Thirty seconds to go again. Kelly was free through the middle, one-on-one with Frohms, but the whistle had already gone and Kelly knew it.

What did she do? Shanked a shot miles wide to run down a few more precious seconds.

It could have got her sent off. She’d already been booked for her brilliant goal celebration when she’d gone to take her shirt off, paused, then taken it off anyway and swung it around her head, guaranteeing herself a booking and guaranteeing herself icon status to boot.

By this point though, a red probably wouldn’t have mattered. England were 2-1 up, thanks to Kelly’s killer instinct. Now time was up as well, thanks to Kelly’s absolute masterclass in running down the clock.

The hometown hero. The west London girl who, as new national treasure Robyn Cowan pointed out on comms, used to catch the 92 bus to the door of Wembley Stadium. The woman whose journey to this tournament – ruptured ACL, missed Olympics, last-minute recovery – was the stuff of an overly-cheesy Hollywood sports flick.

She’d done it.

But not by scoring. Or not just by scoring.

Goals change games, but they don’t win them. Chloe Kelly knows that. Fortunately for England, she knows what does.

Chloe Kelly is a shithouse queen. England kneels at her feet.

By Joshua Law

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