England mastered the dark arts against Germany and we should applaud them for that

England mastered the dark arts against Germany and we should applaud them for it - AFP

England mastered the dark arts against Germany and we should applaud them for it – AFP

It started with a shoulder barge into the chest of a goalkeeper trying to catch the ball over her head and ended with an England team frustrating the life out of an opponent as they ran down the clock to become European champions.

This was an English team that mastered the dark arts and won a close game they could so easily have lost. It was a growing display.

Germany were the better team for most of the second half and even after falling behind to Ella Toone’s sublime goal, they were strong enough to force an equalizer with 11 minutes remaining.

They were a nightmare to play against and knew every trick in the book – plus some that hadn’t been written down yet. Germany was nasty and unpleasant; constantly complaining, constantly appealing for free kicks, constantly in the faces of the women in white shirts.

However, these are lionesses, not lions. They are hunters, they are hunters and every time Germany screamed at them, they roared back. One of the night’s most memorable shots came late on when Jill Scott, England’s most experienced player and midfield attacker, had brought down Sydney Lohmann.

It was a soft foul, nothing malicious, but Lohmann swiped out and kicked Scott as she fell over her. It was deliberate and it was designed to scare. Scott jumped up, her face contorted with rage as she ran towards Germany’s number eight and screamed aggressively in her face. Even an amateur lip reader could tell the words “f—— and p—-” were in there. Lohmann backed up a bit, backed up a bit and England’s aggression and hostility were emphasized.

This was not a pretty performance by England, it was dirty and it had to be. The Lionesses triumphed through spirit and determination and no shortage of foul play themselves. Whatever the Germans handed out, they gave back. No quarter asked, no quarter given. This was not a clash, not for the faint of heart or the timid, and the lionesses were neither of those things. They played on the edge of control, in the gray area between physical and ugly, because that’s where Germany took them too.

England's Beth Mead and Germany's Marina Hegering react after colliding - Reuters

England’s Beth Mead and Germany’s Marina Hegering react after colliding – Reuters

England were niggly, they were physical. They kicked, they scratched, they roughed their shoulders and when they thought they could get away with it, they left a foot too.

This was a physical match with a ball to play with too. Germany wanted to drag England into a scrap, they wanted to make them fight.

Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side had not enjoyed reading England manager Sarina Wiegman saying on Friday that Germany was just another team to beat this summer. These are party spoiler specialists in Germany, England. They were here to do it again but this time they failed and went home defeated with English voices ringing in their ears.

The bad blood was evident from the start. When Ellen White competed for a high ball she had no real chance of winning, she followed up anyway and took goalkeeper Merie Frohms. The German reacted and screamed at the English striker who raised his hands in mock apology. It was a taste of what was to come.

At the other end, England goalkeeper Mary Earps was left in a heap by a similar challenge from Lea Schuller. In the second half, the same player left a stud mark on her knee chasing a pass she wasn’t supposed to get.

It was unflinchingly hostile. As Beth Mead rose to contest a header, Felicitas Rauch looked at her undefended back, lined her up and smashed her from behind, leading with hip and arm. Mead was lying on the floor in obvious pain.

England's Beth Mead and Germany's Marina Hegering react after colliding - REUTERS

England’s Beth Mead and Germany’s Marina Hegering react after colliding – REUTERS

If Germany thought they were going to bully England, they were wrong. A few minutes later and Georgia Stanway, already heavily booked for complaining about a free kick being awarded, got her revenge, thundering into a 50-50 challenge that Rauch came out on top of. It was risky , it was a tackle with intent to injure, but she picked up another yellow.

Germany didn’t just want to rattle England and hurt them, they also tried to liquidate them. Giulia Gwin was booed by the home crowd when she threw the ball instead of giving it to an England player.

Things became more heated as the game wore on when Schuller decided to shove Rachel Daly in the back without any apparent provocation after the England player had tackled her.

As England faltered, Germany’s players let it be known who was on top. It was flight or flight time, and predictably it was England’s toughest, toughest and most intimidating player who came out swinging in added time.

Lucy Bronze threw herself into a tackle, both feet coming through in a scissor motion to leave an opponent writhing in discomfort on the turf. She got a yellow card, but it was dangerously close to red card territory. However, Germany felt the pain.

England needed to be strong, they needed to fight and they did. Some may complain about that, but no one complained when the final whistle went. England are European champions and they did it by any means necessary. We should applaud them for that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *