Georgia Stanway stood on her personal, remoted in a pocket of area. With her fingers within the air, she noticed the transfer earlier than it unfolded. England had been trying to find the gaps towards Colombia, however going behind solely sharpened their focus. After the explosion of Colombia’s objective, England might have misplaced their heads, however Stanway discovered hers after which the area. One thumping end from Alessia Russo later and England have been heading in the direction of the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Arguably, nobody deserves this semi-final greater than the Bayern Munich midfielder. Stanway needed to be disciplined when Keira Walsh was injured, constrained when Lauren James was given the keys to England’s artistic output. With James suspended, Stanway was launched. With the chew in midfield to fight Colombia’s physicality, then the cool to choose holes of their defensive form. Having to play by way of 4 video games on a yellow card has in the meantime pressured Stanway to do all of it on a knife-edge, controlling the aggression when one mistaken second would have taken her semi-final away.
The Lionesses additionally needed to earn it, in a troublesome contest that handed by in waves of England management and frantic Colombia stress. The ambiance fed into it: Colombia turned up of their numbers, dominating the 75,000 capability stadium and its soundtrack; hostile when England had possession, electrical when Colombia flew ahead, the noise rising additional when Linda Caicedo drove them on. England confronted the battle that they had been anticipating.
Then Colombia scored and a event that has been outlined by obstacles was offered with a brand new one, as England trailed for the primary time within the World Cup. But Stanway epitomised how England responded and took to their activity. It was a unique kind of resilience to what England confirmed on the finish, persevering with to point out, on the ball and off it. She confirmed her intelligence, baiting Colombia gamers in and ready a second, earlier than releasing it. As a complete, there wasn’t a panic. Lauren Hemp’s equaliser was scrappy, arriving in a multitude within the penalty field, however it had been coming. If something, going behind sharpened England.
England’s plan was clear sufficient: that they had their management and build-up, neat passages of play as they discovered the gaps in Colombia’s form, threading passes by way of for Stanway and Ella Toone to show. England have been sharper than towards Nigeria, even when the ultimate ball was lacking. With James’ two-match ban forcing one other rethink for Wiegman, the England supervisor mixed one thing new with one thing outdated. The midfield three returned, with Stanway and Toone deployed as twin-eights in entrance of England’s again 5.
But Colombia reached the quarter-finals by guaranteeing these spells don’t final for lengthy. Between England’s passing strikes, Colombia rattled them and threatened with their high quality, thriving off the match being in a scrappy and disrupted state. The South Americans broke England’s passing up and tore no matter momentum they have been constructing down, a sequence of fouls to pause England’s circulation. Then there have been the challenges: Ana Guzman barging into Hemp, then leaving an arm on Rachel Daly, Santos pulling Stanway again by the arm.
And in these spells England have been sloppy, five-yard passes hit straight out of play, permitting themselves to take the protected or simple possibility, turning down the prospect to show. When Santos’ cross drifted over the top of Mary Earps, England have been confronted with the worst.
The response was essential. In the six minutes of added time on the finish of the primary half, England caught to how that they had set as much as play. The manner Colombia have been positioned allowed England to have these gaps in midfield and there was at all times a participant to search out. England needed to be affected person, to maneuver it rapidly sufficient and have the arrogance to do extra once they might flip.
Hemp all over the place throughout the frontline, taking stress off England with bursts downfield, Russo struggling to carry the ball up, however producing the devastating end when it counted. England dropped deep, maybe too early, however they did so protected within the data that that they had Millie Bright on this type. Bright was faultless as England defended their field, alongside the distinctive Alex Greenwood. This wasn’t excellent however this event has been about discovering a manner by way of. England are having fun with it, whereas Stanway simply presents them that bit extra.