It just couldn’t have gone much better than that.
For England, Tuesday night was like a fairytale after it thumped Sweden 4-0 to advance to the Women’s Euro 2022 final.
Following two recent semifinal heartbreaks, goals from Beth Mead, Lucy Bronze, Alessia Russo and Fran Kirby helped ease fears of more pain.
But the main talking point was Russo’s creative and brilliant back-heel in the second half which squeaked through goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl’s legs, sparking scenes of wild celebration.
And just like the England players on the pitch who couldn’t believe what they’d just seen, social media and fans alike were also gobsmacked by the moment of genius from the English forward.
Some called it “sublime” and some called it “outrageous.” US Women’s legend Abby Wambach – scorer of 184 international goals – couldn’t help praising Russo.
“I dreamt of scoring a goal like that my whole life. Never happened. Alessia Russo take a bow. Go on England,” she tweeted.
Chelsea and Australia star Sam Kerr also was on hand to show her appreciation: “Not gonna lie, that was lit from Russo.”
The Wednesday morning newspapers in the UK took the opportunity to pay homage to Russo’s finish, with the Daily Mirror saying: “Heel’s on fire.”
Other papers chose to praise the performance by the England team as a whole, with the Metro making a Swedish-based pun, saying “Abba some of that!”
England manager Sarina Wiegman praised Russo’s ability to change the game after the substitute’s goal. “You must have so much courage to do something, such an unpredictable and phenomenal thing like that,” Wiegman told a press conference afterwards.
For Russo herself, after scoring arguably the goal of the tournament, she admitted that she didn’t “know how it went in,” having missed an easier opportunity to score moments earlier.
“I could have made it a lot easier for myself if I’d scored the first one. It fell nicely and I don’t really remember much about it,” she told Sky Sports News.
“I just thought it was the quickest route to get it in the back of the net without having to turn and I was fortunate it went it. I didn’t really see it go in, so I don’t really know how it went in to be honest. But I just celebrated and enjoyed the moment.”
A legend from the men’s side congratulated the women’s team upon qualification to the final. “What a performance by the Lionesses tonight. A well-deserved Women’s Euro 2022 final coming up. Congratulations to all the players and staff,” Wayne Rooney tweeted.
The victory secures England’s place at Wembley on Sunday and continues Wiegman’s remarkable personal record of never having lost a game at a European Championship having won in 2017 with the Netherlands.
And she’s not done yet.
“(The media asked), ‘Are you ready to make history?’ This is history,” Wiegman said. “We want to inspire the nation. I think that’s what we’re doing. We want to make a difference.”