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Georgia Stanway expressed her delight after sealing England’s dramatic Euro 2022 quarter-final win over Spain with a stunning strike, admitting: “I don’t know why I shot but I’m glad I did”.
The tournament hosts progressed to the semis after coming from behind at the Amex Stadium, with substitute Ella Toone equalising in the 84th minute to cancel out Esther Gonzalez’s 54th-minute opener before Stanway’s show-stopper in the sixth minute of extra-time secured a 2-1 victory.
The midfielder, who has joined Bayern Munich this summer after leaving Manchester City, collected the ball from Keira Walsh, drove towards the box and sent a wonderful shot flying past the diving Sandra Panos from around 20 yards out.
It was a second goal of the tournament for Stanway, the other being a penalty in the 8-0 group-stage thrashing of Norway at the same stadium.
The 23-year-old, scorer of 11 goals in 38 England caps overall, said: “A lot of the girls before the game have said to me I need to shoot more, because coming into this tournament, I’d not had masses of efforts on goal.
“I don’t know why I shot, I don’t know what came over me. Usually I would probably pass that ball to the winger and expect the ball to be put back in the box. But I just thought ‘what is the worst that can happen?’
“I think it was because nobody came to me. I’d expect a defender to step out to me and put me under some pressure or challenge my decision-making. But nobody came to me, and I feel like when the defender makes the decision for me, it’s easier. I honestly don’t know why I shot but I’m glad I did.”
WHAT A GOAL. WHAT A MOMENT!
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 20, 2022
Asked if it was the greatest moment of her career so far, Stanway said: “Yeah, probably. It all feels like a massive blur at the moment. I need to watch it back and see where I was, how it went in the net, I literally can’t remember.
“I remember saying to one of the girls ‘at what moment did we actually score?’ The celebrations at the end showed how much it meant to us and the fans were unbelievable.”
The atmosphere of elation at the end of the match, which had a crowd of 28,994 in attendance, was some contrast to the feeling of increasing tension around the stadium that had preceded Toone’s leveller, with Sarina Wiegman’s side having struggled to find much rhythm against a composed Spain outfit ranked one place higher than them at seventh in the world.
It ended up being an impressive show of England’s resilience as they battled back from conceding for the first time in the campaign, after scoring 14 goals without reply across their three group-stage victories.
Stanway said: “Spain were really good – but I think that just showcases how good we were as well, taking those final moments. It’s not nice to see a good side go out of a tournament, but I guess you’ve got to beat the best to be the best.”
The Lionesses will now face either Sweden or Belgium at Bramall Lane next Tuesday and Stanway added: “Obviously there were moments we can work on, massive movements. But we’re just thrilled. Thanks to everyone for the support, and hopefully we can continue to do well.”
Defender Millie Bright, who was named player of the match, said: “I think tournament football is about momentum, it’s abut keeping everyone in a good place.
“We’ll stay in our little bubble, we’ve done it from the start, and nothing changes going into the semis.
“We’ll reflect on this performance and things we can do better, but I thought we showed our true character and in parts of the game we showed our true talent on the ball as well. So we just have to take all the positives out of it and keep the belief.”