England’s Lionesses slipped to an agonising defeat against Spain in the Women’s World Cup final, despite the penalty heroics of goalkeeper Mary Earps.
Spain produced a superb display of possession football combined with swift counter-attacking, with Olga Carmona’s crisp left-footed finish in the 29th minute proving the winner.
Lauren Hemp struck the crossbar for England in the first half, but they struggled to find answers to Spain’s football even after Sarina Wiegman introduced Lauren James and Chloe Kelly in a bold half-time double substitution.
Earps kept England in the contest by saving Jennifer Hermoso’s 69th-minute penalty, but the Lionesses failed to threaten in the closing stages and came up short.
02:35 PM BST
The search for another football World Cup triumph goes on
In the end it wasn’t to be as Spain outclassed England in Sydney.
Once the match settled the Spaniards — who came into the tournament on the back of rifts in the camp and with their manager, Jorge Vilda — looked the more cohesive and threatening side. The Lionesses never really got going and when they did offer a goal threat in the second half, bar Lauren Hemp’s attempt, they created half-chances at best.
That meant Carmona’s fine first-half strike was enough to win Spain their first Women’s World Cup title. Not even Mary Earps’ penalty save with 20 minutes to go could provide inspiration to a Lionesses side that just lacked that spark today.
02:22 PM BST
His Majesty King Charles’ message to the Lionesses
“This brings you, your manager and all your support team my heartfelt thoughts and commiserations on the result of the World Cup final.
“While I know how sore it must be, let none of you feel defeated, for to have reached the final at all is an immense tribute to your skill, determination and team spirit in the finest sporting tradition.
“More than that, though, it will serve as an inspiration for generations to come – and, for that, your place in the history books is assured. With great admiration, congratulations to the Spanish team and with particular gratitude to the people of Australia and New Zealand for hosting such a wonderful tournament. Charles R”
02:17 PM BST
How the nation reacted
Alex Scott, former England player and BBC pundit said: ‘No-one will take this loss more personally that Lucy Bronze. She will not be able to sleep. She is a world-class player and the number of girls she has inspired to get a number two shirt and to want to play right-back so she can’t blame herself.’
02:11 PM BST
Here’s Tom Garry’s report on a agonising night for the Lionesses
“It was the first time that England had lost a competitive match under 53-year-old Wiegman, who took over two years ago, in her 39th game in charge of the national team. Her sole other defeat with the team came in a friendly in April against Australia, who co-hosted this tournament, but there was to be no celebrations outside the Sydney Opera House for the crestfallen England fans in Sydney.”
02:04 PM BST
Tom Garry at Stadium Australia – ‘England can have no complaints’
01:52 PM BST
Sarina Wiegman speaks to the BBC – ‘Spain were better than us’
“I thought we got momentum but then the penalty and injury with Greenwood [happened]. Overall I think Spain were a little better than us today. Congratulations to Spain. Of course it feels bad now, you are disappointed. You want to win, then you lose but what we have done and how we have shown ourselves, overcoming so many challenges, we can be so proud of ourselves though it doesn’t feel like that at the moment.”
01:48 PM BST
Lucy Bronze is in tears
She’s a brilliant player but looks inconsolable on the Sydney pitch.
01:35 PM BST
Who played well and who had a game to forget?
Here are the player ratings…
01:32 PM BST
Tom Garry at Stadium Australia
Bonmati must be a shoe-in for the Ballon d’Or now. The best player of this tournament and a Champions League winner too. There could be no complaints if she won that prize too.
Meanwhile, the England players look like they would rather be anywhere else right now. They just want to leave. And who can blame them? Watching somebody else lift a trophy must be one of the worst feelings in professional sport.
01:28 PM BST
Millie Bright speaks to the BBC – ‘It’s really hard to take’
On her current emotions…
“It’s really hard to take, we gasve it everything and hand on heart we gave it our best.”
On the performance…
“In the first half we weren’t at our best. But we bounced back in second half. We just didn’t have the final edge today and [Spain] put their chance in the back of the net.”
On the mood in the team before and during the match…
“There was a lot of belief, we’ve been down in game and won. It’s hard to take but that’s football. We just weren’t there today…The girls are unbelievable. We had critics at the start of the tournament. We never lost belief in ourselves. Sometimes football goes for you sometimes it doesn’t. We’ve played in a World cup final – in a few weeks we may appreciate it but right now it’s hard to take.”
01:18 PM BST
That this is only Sarina Wiegman’s second loss as England manager. And, following the Netherlands’ defeat to the USA four year ago, this is her second World Cup final defeat – heartbreaking.
01:17 PM BST
Prince William praises the Lionesses – ‘You have done the nation proud’
01:13 PM BST
Heartbreak for England
01:09 PM BST
Joy for Spain
01:04 PM BST
FULL-TIME: SPAIN WIN THE WORLD CUP
That was the last action of the tournament and it’s Spain who are world champions.
It wasn’t meant to be for the Lionesses, who on the night lacked quality in the final third, too many of their best players didn’t have a good game. This final, it seems, was one bump in the road too many.
01:03 PM BST
104 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Corner for England – this is it – the last chance…
The ball is whipped in BUT Cata comes out and claims brilliantly.
01:02 PM BST
103 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Hamps flies down the right and gets in a great ball into the box…can anyone get on the end of it. Alas the answer is ‘no’ as Spain head clear with Bright making her presence felt.
01:00 PM BST
102 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Last-chance saloon time. The ball is launched forward by Earps but it comes to nothing as Hemp is penalised for a foul.
12:59 PM BST
102 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Just two minutes to go…
12:59 PM BST
100 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Greenwood is up against the pacey Harnandez and does brilliantly – tackling the Spain sub and retaining possession.
12:58 PM BST
99 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Four minutes left – is their still belief among the Lionesses?
12:57 PM BST
97 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Spain have two looks at goal – first through the brilliant Bonmati (player of the match for me…) then Paralluelo. Both shot blocked and both the result of England losing the ball in midfield – something they’ve done too much tonight.
12:54 PM BST
95 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Free-kick for Spain in the final third. Can they finish this match off?
Thankfully for England the answer is ‘no’ the ball is delivered to the back post but England win the secondary and lump the ball forward.
There is still time for the Lionesses to get back into this.
12:52 PM BST
94 mins: England 0-1 Spain
The Lionesses haven’t been great in the final third this half – it’s been hopeful balls rather than precise balls played into the Spain box and, bar that chance for Hemp, there haven’t been many chances to speak of for England.
12:51 PM BST
92 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Earps is called into action once again. England are committing numbers forward and leaving gaps at the back. The space is filled by Batlle whose low shot is saved by the England stopper…
12:50 PM BST
90 mins: England 0-1 Spain
I was right, there will be at least five minutes added time…in fact there will be 13 minutes added time.
Can England do this?
12:49 PM BST
89 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Chance for Spain as Hermoso is played in in the box in the inside-left channel, her shot is goal bound until a great block from Carter intervenes.
Meanwhile, two-time Ballon d’Or winner Putellas comes on for Caldentey.
12:47 PM BST
88 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Englasnd haven’t created enough this half – but there is still time.
The ball is launched into the Spain box, it comes out to Bright who goes for glory, her shot looping harmlessly.
12:46 PM BST
86 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Change for England – one last throw of the dice?
Beth England comes on for Ella Toone…a natural focal point for the Lionesses. Can she make the difference?
12:44 PM BST
85 mins: England 0-1 Spain
It’s now or never for England – there will be at least five minutes, if not more, of added time.
Time for Millie Bright to go up top?
12:42 PM BST
83 mins: England 0-1 Spain
James is brought down from behind on the edge of the box, it seems a certain free-kick but play is waved on. Not sure how that wasn’t a foul…
12:41 PM BST
82 mins: England 0-1 Spain
After at least five minutes the match continues – Greenwood will continue.
That does mean there will be a fair bit of added time.
Bronze whips in a great cross from the right but there’s no one there.
12:40 PM BST
Nottingham reacts to that penalty save
Fair to say Mary Earps’ home city was happy with that…
12:39 PM BST
76 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Greenwood is still down but it looks as though she’ll continue with Bronze signalling for a new shirt…and shorts as well…
Just seen a replay and she took a knee from Paralluelo, their was no malice in that challenge…
12:37 PM BST
74 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Gerenwood takes a hit from Paralluelo. The England defender is down and the Spain teenager gets a yellow.
It’s not a good sight with Greenwood down for a while. The medic are taking their time.
12:35 PM BST
71 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Lauren James has a go from an acute angle, it look hopeful but is on target and forces Cata into a fingertip save.
Can England create anything from the corner? Alas, the answer is ‘no’.
12:33 PM BST
Mary Queen of Stops!
Fine penalty save from Mary Earps.
12:28 PM BST
HUGE MOMENT (well worth the caps lock!)!!!
Hermoso goes to Earps’ left and the England keeper makes a great save. It wasn’t the best penalty but Earps did what she had to do…
Mary Queen of Stops does it again!
It was a wonderful save from Mary Earps but Lucy Bronze played a huge role in that missed penalty. She was in the ear of Hermoso from the moment she put the ball down. Then complained it wasn’t on the spot and then the referee made her move it back. England are still in this…
12:26 PM BST
PENALTY FOR SPAIN
After what seems like an age it’s a penalty…right decision…
12:25 PM BST
POSSIBLE PENALTY FOR SPAIN
There’s a check for a handball – it does hit Walsh’s hand and it looks in an ‘unnatural’ position during that move.
The ref is asked to go to the screen…it doesn’t look good for England.
12:23 PM BST
62 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Havoc in the England box. It all starts with Bonmati on the left, there’s a bit of pinball in the box before Paralluelo’s shot is deflected for a corner.
12:21 PM BST
60 mins: England 0-1 Spain
England are seeing more of the ball but I type they lose the ball (too many times tonight that has happened…) this time through Walsh. Spain break and Bonmati has a go from distance with her left boot, her shot just flying over the bar as Earps was at full stretch.
12:18 PM BST
58 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Signs of life for England as Spain make their first change – Redondo is off for Hernandez.
12:16 PM BST
56 mins: England 0-1 Spain
England are growing into this half, they’re seeing more of the ball and waiting for their moment. Walsh, this time, delivers a dangerous ball from the right that evade everyone. But they are starting to cause a few problems.
12:13 PM BST
53 mins: England 0-1 Spain
GREAT CHANCE FOR ENGLAND.
Kelly times her run well on the right before whipping in a brilliant low cross between the Spain backline and keeper. Hemp is at the back post and meets it first time but her shot is wide, when it should, at the very least, been on target. Will they regret that miss?
12:11 PM BST
52 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Better from the Lionesses. They are passing the ball well in Spain’s half looking for the opening, but they lose the ball cheaply again. Patience may well be the key this half for Wiegman’s team.
12:10 PM BST
51 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Nothing to speak of in attack this half so far from England, still early days but the momentum still very much with Spain.
12:09 PM BST
48 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Kelly does well in her own half until she gives the ball away – England cannot afford to keep losing possession like this… – Spain work the ball well infield before Caldentey tries her luck from outside the box and forces Earps into a vital save low to her left.
Spain are still asking all the questions and England could do with a bit of spark to poses some problems of their own…
Well, the England manager has gone for it early, taking off Daly and Russo and injecting some pace at the top end of the pitch with James and Kelly. A switch in formation to a 4-3-3. This is very, very bold and a sign Wiegman was not happy with how things were going
12:06 PM BST
46 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Bronze loses the ball and Spain break, they are unable to create much and James retrieves possession until she then loses the ball. Spain are being patient but England defend well and Earps isn’t called into action.
12:05 PM BST
45 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Lauren James is indeed on and so is Chloe Kelly as Wiegman rings the changes. Daly and Russo are the ones to make way and it looks as though the Lionesses have gone to a back four.
12:01 PM BST
It looks as though Lauren James is coming on
Not clear who for yet, but the Chelsea player is out on the pitch warming up…
11:53 AM BST
Luke Edwards’ half-time verdict
England are still in this game as long as Lauren Hemp continues to play like she has done so far. Spain can be hurt defensively but the Lionesses’ other attacking players, Russo and Toone, are off the pace.
Something needs to change at the top end of the pitch, but what has happened to Georgia Stanway? She has been a passenger at this World Cup and the game is passing her by again in the final. Lauren James will be introduced sooner rather than later I’m sure because Spain look like they have got more goals in them at the moment.
11:52 AM BST
HALF-TIME: England 0-1 Spain
That’s the last action of the half and it’s a half that went the way of Spain. England started well but as the half went on Spain grew in confidence and are well worth their 1-0 lead.
A lot of work for Sarina Wiegman’s side to do in the second half.
11:50 AM BST
44 mins: England 0-1 Spain
England are committing numbers forward and are out of shape as Bonmati has the freedom of Sydney on the right. For once she delivers a poor ball and no chance comes from that attack. BUT the ball is recovered by the Spaniards and again is delivered into the box where it finds the foot of Paralluelo whose shot hits the outside of the post…another close call…
11:47 AM BST
43 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Hemp again finds room on the right and once again gets in a teasing cross that causes come problems in the Spain defence, but they eventually clear the threat and can breathe a sigh of relief.
11:46 AM BST
42 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Greenwood sells Bright a bit short in the England half and the Lionesses are lucky to escape there. Some uncharacteristic errors so far from Sarina Wiegman’s side.
11:45 AM BST
40 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Chance for England! It comes down the right as Hemp manages to get away from the close attention of the Spain defenders. She looks up and plays a decent low ball into the box that Toone just cannot get on the end of…It wouldn’t have counted, however, as Toone went too early and was offside…
11:43 AM BST
39 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Whenever the ball comes to Hemp or Russo they are crowded out by two, or more, Spain defenders. For the time being England are struggling to play the match in Spain’s half, or keep the ball for any sustained period…
11:41 AM BST
37 mins: England 0-1 Spain
Nervy times for England as uncharacteristic, poor clearance from Millie Bright gives Spain a great chance in the box. Fortunately for Serina Wiegman and Co, Paredes mishits the shot and it goes well wide….
England could do with getting their foot on the ball and just trying to take the sting out of Spain at the moment, if only for a minute or two.
11:39 AM BST
How Spain took the lead
Great finish from Carmona…
11:37 AM BST
Luke Edwards at Stadium Australia – Toone at fault for Spain opener?
England must not panic here. They can still hurt Spain whenever they get into the final third but they are going to need more from players like Ella Toone. She was guilty of not making any attempt to find space when Bronze held on to the ball for too long and that led to the Spain goal on the turnover. Toone then let three Spanish players run past her as she trotted back. With James on the bench Toone looks like a substitution waiting to happen at the moment
11:36 AM BST
32 mins: England 0-1 Spain
A reminder that this is what happened in last year’s quarter-final against Spain – England, obviously, went on to win on their way to Euros glory.
But the Lionesses are under pressure here, they’ve had just 35 per cent possession (no great shock there) and have to regroup.
11:31 AM BST
England 0-1 Spain (Carmona)
It’s a fine finish to end an opportunistic and fine Spain move. But it came from an England mistake. Bronze takes a touch too many in midfield, the ball is stolen off her before a crossfield pass is played right. The ball is laid off to Carmona and she hits a brilliant low shot into the far corner of the net to give Earps little chance.
11:30 AM BST
Here’s Hemp nearly putting England ahead
11:29 AM BST
23 mins: England 0-0 Spain
The game has just gone down a gear these past few minutes – it was going at 90mph before, so no shock there then. Meanwhile, a pitch invader tried their luck but stewards did their job and end the Tomfoolery before they can really claim to have had their 15 minutes of fame…
11:24 AM BST
20 mins: England 0-0 Spain
Paralluelo is doing well and it’s not hard to see why she started, she does well down the left and delivers a good, low cross that England, once again, do well to intercept.
11:23 AM BST
18 mins: England 0-0 Spain
Both sides are beginning to look stretched at the back and vulnerable. Hemp, again, gets in a shot that Cata can save with ease.
There have been few 0-0 predictions and it’s not hard to see why. There will be goals in this…
11:22 AM BST
16 mins: England 0-0 Spain
The first great save of the match is made by Mary Earps as Spain get the ball into the box from the left and Redondo shoots low from all of five yards and the England keeper somehow manages to keep the ball out. Paralluelo could have also slotted home but miskicks the ball.
Chances at both ends now…
11:19 AM BST
15 mins: England 0-0 Spain
First great chance of the match falls to England and more specifically Lauren Hemp. The Lionesses when they get into the final third are upping the tempo and playing with real intent. The ball is delivered square from the left and Hemp hits it first time with her left boot firing against the crossbar.
11:16 AM BST
From Tom Garry at Stadium Australia
England are going a lot more direct than we’ve seen for much of this tournament, in the early stages here.
In the technical areas, Spain boss Jorge Vilda is standing on the edge of his area with his hands in his pockets. Sarina Wiegman has sat down to speak with Arjan Veurink, her assistant.
11:16 AM BST
12 mins: England 0-0 Spain
Great one-touch football from Spain in their own half is a delight to watch but also, more importantly, gets them into the England half and again forces the backline into some timely tackles. A warning sign of what this Spain side are able to do.
11:14 AM BST
10 mins: England 0-0 Spain
England are pressing high up, looking to force Spain into errors. Bronze commits a foul BUT Spain give the ball away from the free-kick and Hemp is in the box and does well to earn the first corner of the game.
Can they create something from this? The answer is ‘no’ as Cata comes and claims the ball well.
But promising signs for Sarina Wiegman’s side.
11:12 AM BST
8 mins: England 0-0 Spain
Spain have been in the England half a fair bit so far, but Earps is yet to make a save. The Lionesses are looking more than solid at the back so far.
11:10 AM BST
Both sides showing enterprise so far
11:09 AM BST
5 mins: England 0-0 Spain
Spain again have some joy down the right. Bonmati does brilliantly, driving though midfield before laying it off for Redondo. She crosses into the box but ultimately England defend well and Spain are unable to create a chance.
11:07 AM BST
4 mins: England 0-0 Spain
The first shot of the match is from England as the ball is played into the box, Spain cannot deal with it and Hemp latches onto the loose ball forcing Cate into a good, low save.
Positive start from the Lionesses.
11:06 AM BST
3 mins: England 0-0 Spain
Spain attack down the right through the exciting teenager Paralluelo. Millie Bright stands her ground and forces Spain infield. The move peters out with a cross to no one. Solid start in defence from the Lionesses.
11:03 AM BST
2 mins: England 0-0 Spain
It’s a crisp evening in Sydney and it’s England with the early possession – Hemp taking a real whack as well, she’s up and OK though. Phew.
11:02 AM BST
1 min: England 0-0 Spain
The World Cup final is under way – Spain are in their traditional red and England in their away blue (remember England wore their away kit when winning the World Cup in 1966…).
11:00 AM BST
Just moments to go
Strap in and get ready to enjoy the ride…
Good luck Lionesses…
10:59 AM BST
The national anthems have been sung
There were definitely more fans singing ‘God Save out King’…more England fans in the stadium then?
10:57 AM BST
The two teams are out on the pitch
There are a mixture of serious, focused and relaxed faces on display. The Lionesses are led out by Millie Bright, the finish line is in sight, can England reach it ahead of Spain?
10:52 AM BST
The teams are in the tunnel
We’re about 10 minutes from kick-off.
How are those nerves?
10:50 AM BST
Tom Garry at Stadium Australia
It’s understood that 6,890 people are in hospitality seats for this final, the largest hospitality attendance ever at a Women’s World Cup match. There were only 13 matches at last year’s men’s World Cup in Qatar that had more hospitality guests. Right now, they’re seeing a ‘closing ceremony’ that is featuring an impressive light show, flames jetting into the air from the side of the pitch, fireworks and plenty of dancing. Pitchside, over a hundred photographs are in-position, clustered in two groups, awaiting the shots of the players walking out down the tunnel.
10:44 AM BST
Corydon Boxpark is simmering ahead of kick-off
By Janet Eastham
The music has been blaring for over an hour at Croydon Boxpark in south London, and on the balcony Ava Stewart, 9, had been waving an England flag for almost the entire time.
“I’m worried her arm is going to fall off,” jokes her mother, Michelle O’Neill, an executive assistant from Kingston.
Nine-year-old Ava, sporting both lion face paint, is part of the new generation of female footballers inspired by the seemingly unstoppable rise of England women’s team.
“Lauren James is my favourite footballer, because she plays for Chelsea and she’s a great player,” Ava told The Telegraph.
The young Chelsea fan trains twice a week at Fulham and plays for Richmond Park.
10:40 AM BST
Let’s talk about Spain
Such is the focus on the Lionesses that sometimes it’s easy to forget there is another team out on that pitch tonight.
Since they lost 4-0 to Japan in the group stage Spain have impressed, knocking out Switzerland, the Netherlands and France.
Not only that but they’ve done it while coping with a rift between coach Jorge Vilda and his players – remarkable…
The majority of the players are made up of Champions League winners Barcelona and they will likely enjoy more possession tonight. England will need to be patient.
10:32 AM BST
Prince of Wales is disappointed not to be in Sydney
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said the Prince of Wales is “disappointed” not to attend the Women’s World Cup final, as she defended William and the Prime Minister from criticism that they have not travelled.
Speaking to the PA news agency in Sydney, she said: “I’m in Australia representing the Government. The Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, is also here. I know that the Prime Minister feels very passionately about the women’s game.
“Only about a month or so ago he and I were at 10 Downing Street with the Lionesses, and I know he sent a message to the Lionesses wishing them congratulations and luck today.”
Asked if she understands the disappointment of people who suggest both William and Rishi Sunak would be attending if it were the men’s team in the same position, Ms Frazer added: “I think the royal family do a tremendous amount for the country in so many spheres, including in sport. Prince William is, of course, the president of the FA and is a tremendous supporter of the sport.
“I know that he’s disappointed that he isn’t able to be here today but he has sent a message of good luck to the Lionesses.
“I’m sure that on their return, win or lose, he will be congratulating them on how they’ve done in this competition.”
10:26 AM BST
Good omen alert No.2!
Fara Williams has been somewhat of a Mystic Meg this tournament, not only predicting the right results but also the right scores (spooky…). And the former England international and current BBC pundit has gone for a 2-0 win to the Lionesses.
So fear not, get rid of those nerves and enjoy the match…
10:20 AM BST
From Tom Garry at Stadium Australia
“The England supporters have been singing in Sydney all day, gathering in the coastal suburb of Manly, north east of Sydney, around 10am this morning – 10 hours before kick-off – with a group of them catching the ferry into downtown Sydney this morning under pristine, blue skies, chanting ‘Tooney and ‘Lessi Russo’ at the top of their voices as the ferry approached Central Quay, the harbour adjacent to the iconic Sydney Opera House.
“Around 8,000 Lionesses fans are expected to be here tonight, but perhaps more, as resale tickets have been snapped up frantically with slightly over-confident USA fans having seemingly grabbed a lot of the tickets for this match in the early sale windows. It’s a sellout, nonetheless, and currently we’re being treated to a rendition of ‘Heeeeey, Hey baby, Oo, Aah…’ (You know the song) around the stadium sound system.”
10:18 AM BST
Sarina Wiegman speaks to the BBC – ‘Enjoy the moment’
On the feelings in the squad…
“We have prepared as we always do and are excited.”
On Lauren James starting on the bench…
“I hope everyone who starts has impact on the game. It’s nice to have LJ on the bench and if needed she’s ready.”
On what she’s told the players…
“Spoken about our plan and the strengths and weaknesses of Spain. We want to play our best game but most of all enjoy the moment.”
10:06 AM BST
Lucy Bronze speaks to the BBC – ‘The girls are excited and relaxed for the match’
On whether she has any pre-match nerves…
“I am just enjoying the moment, we’ve played here twice before so familiar territory for us. The girls are relaxed and excited for the match.”
On the Spain XI…
“It’s pretty much the same – bar Salma is playing through the middle. We’re ready for whoever they play and who is picked – we’re excited to play them.”
On Lauren James being back on on the bench…
“Sarina says it’s a boost for us to have 23 available, LJ is back and we’re all excited. She’s excited if she comes on and can show everyone what’s she capable of.”
On having big final experience from last year’s Euros triumph…
“We can draw on the fact we know how it goes, we cope with the pressure. It makes a big difference to how you start the game tonight. Hope that can give us the edge.”
09:59 AM BST
Both sets of players…
…are looking relaxed and chatting to each other. Obviously Lucy Bronze and Kiera Walsh know a few of the players from Barcelona.
09:55 AM BST
Ready and surveying the scene
09:51 AM BST
The England team in old-fashioned black and white
England XI to face Spain: Earps, Bronze, Bright, Greenwood, Carter, Daly, Walsh, Stanway, Toone, Hemp, Russo.
Subs: Charles, James, Nobbs, Hampton, Wubben-Moy, Morgan, Coombs, Kelly, England, Zelem, Roebuck, Robinson.
As many expected Sarina Wiegman has named the same England starting XI. That means Lauren James, returning from a two-match suspension, starts on the bench.
Ella Toone keeps her place in the side and England set-up with a back three again. The impressive pairing of Alessia Russo and Lauren Hemp lead the line for England.
And a reminder of the Spain XI…
Spain XI to face England: Cata, Batlle, Paredes, Codina, Olga, Abelleira, Bonmati, Hermoso, Redondo, Caldentey, Paralluelo.
The big news is that two-time Ballon d’Or Alexia Putellas is on the bench…
09:48 AM BST
09:46 AM BST
Nottingham ready to cheer on one of its own
By Eleanor Steafel
A queue of England fans is forming outside the Trent Navigation pub in Nottingham, ready to cheer on one of their own.
Just across the river, in West Bridgford, goalkeeper Mary Earps first pulled on the gloves in a game for the West Bridgford Colts. “I was a young girl who wasn’t afraid of diving around in the mud, I wasn’t afraid of the ball and so I saved it,” she said earlier this year. “That’s how the great love affair started.”
Sisters Faith and Laura Worrall have brought their sons to watch Earps and the Lionesses on a big screen outside the pub.
Laura is feeling “very confident”. “I think it’ll be a tough game, but we’re going to win.
“I think it’ll be 2-1 at full time because I don’t want it to go to penalties.”
You’d imagine Earps is probably feeling similarly.
09:42 AM BST
Ella Toone an inspiration for her former club
Girls’ football has become so popular at Lioness Ella Toone’s old club that they “can’t form teams fast enough”.
Lorraine Warwick-Ellis, from Astley and Tyldesley Community Football Club where Toone used to play, told the BBC: “(Women’s football) weren’t televised for a long time, which was a shame. Now we are on TV, we’re visual and the girls can see it, they can be it.
“It’s great to see all these young girls now who are coming down. It’s like we cannot form teams fast enough for them. It’s superb.”
Toone’s former PE teacher Chris Nuttall said she was a “dream” pupil because she got other students involved.
The PE teacher at Fred Longworth High School in Tyldesley told the BBC: “The good thing for us is Ella still comes back to school. She’s very supportive. And I think with the girls seeing Ella around the school as well when she comes in, it’s been a massive for them.
“We have girls’ teams now in every year group. A lot of girls are very interested and we were just chatting then about how many of the students are coming through wanting to be part of the girls’ team, and that is massively down to Ella and her achievements.”
09:39 AM BST
Beth Mead: ‘They just have to go out there and enjoy it’
England and Arsenal footballer Beth Mead, who missed out on a spot in the Lionesses squad due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, has told the BBC she is “not surprised” they are in the World Cup final.
Mead told BBC Breakfast: “I’ve been super-proud of them and what they have achieved so far. Obviously they weren’t all guns firing in the group stages, but now they have grown into the tournament, a great semi-final against Australia and hopefully they peak today.
“I’m not surprised where they are, I know the quality we have in the squad and the direction that Sarina (Wiegman) is putting us in.”
When asked how the Lionesses will be preparing in the last few hours before the final, Mead added: “I think the process won’t have changed throughout the tournament. From game one to now, nothing will have changed.
“People who know the players, friends and family, will always message the day before to try not to bombard them on game day. Generally we wouldn’t look on social media to try and get too overexcited or anything in that sense.
“I know the girls will be fully focused, they will have done their preparation and they will have done their work on Spain.
“They will know all about them and knowing Sarina, she will have a plan A, B, C and D. Now they just have to go out there and enjoy it.”
09:36 AM BST
Where are you watching the match?
Well, if you want some inspiration have a read of this…
09:34 AM BST
Meanwhile, in Madrid…
By James Badcock in Madrid
Spain fans are flocking towards fanzones and big-screen events to watch today’s final in cities across the country, including Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia.
The atmosphere is certain to reach boiling point with hot weather expected across almost all of Spain today. It will be at least 30 degrees Celsius in Madrid by kick-off time with a high of 39 degrees predicted for the capital today.
The big-screen fanzone at Madrid’s WiZink Center has capacity for 6,000 supporters.
09:33 AM BST
Millie Bright on her dreams coming true…
The England captain on making it to the World Cup final…
“If you’d told the nine-year-old me [I would be playing in a World Cup final] she would have probably said you were being silly and it was never going to happen.
“But I guess dreams come true. It is a really proud moment and as a squad, we are just really proud of our journey and the tournament and how far we have come. We are finally getting a shot at the trophy, like we always wanted.”
09:30 AM BST
The England team bus has arrived at the stadium
That gives them 90 minutes to prepare for the big match.
09:27 AM BST
The fans are ready
09:21 AM BST
So what are the battles England need to win
If they are to lift that trophy?
Here’s Luke Edwards on the key battles.
Alessia Russo vs Irene Paredes
Only a few weeks ago there was a genuine debate as to whether Russo deserved to keep her place in the side but she has scored three goals at this World Cup and has formed a dangerous pairing with the rapid Lauren Hemp.
Russo’s strength and hold-up play will be key to England’s game plan but she will be up against the vastly experienced Paredes, who has been the glue at the back for Spain for more than a decade. She has helped the more error prone centre-back Laia Codina through this tournament.
Keira Walsh vs Aitana Bonmati
The Barcelona pair play exceptionally well together at club level, winning the Spanish title and the Champions League together last season. The prospect of them facing each other in a World Cup final is a mouth-watering one.
Bonmati has had the better tournament up to this point but Walsh remains the player who can make England tick in the middle of the pitch. She has been a little off-colour Down Under, but this is the perfect time to prove why she is the most expensive player in the world.
Millie Bright vs Jennifer Hermoso
Bright had to ease her way back into things after a lengthy injury lay-off in the build-up to the tournament, but she is now back to her best and was immense in the narrow wins over Nigeria and Colombia in the knockout rounds.
The England captain is a magnet for the ball whenever it is crossed in the air but she will need to keep the versatile and dangerous Hermoso quiet. The 33-year-old is Spain’s record goalscorer, can play either as a number nine or a number 10 and has the ability to dribble past you in a flash with her quick feet.
09:19 AM BST
Prince William hasn’t been able to make it to Sydney
But he was sent this message, with Princess Charlotte, to the Lionesses.
09:17 AM BST
While we wait for Wiegman’s starting XI…
…Spain have named their side to face the Lionesses and here it is…
Spain XI to face England: Cata, Batlle, Paredes, Codina, Olga, Abelleira, Bonmati, Hermoso, Redondo, Caldentey, Paralluelo.
So Salma Paralluelo, the teenager who came off the bench to score in the last-eight and the semi-final, starts. Ballon d’Or holder Alexia Putellas is on the bench. Barcelona playmaker Aitana Bonmati starts.
09:12 AM BST
Millie Bright on the support back home
“I think as a group we would like to say thank you. Not only to the fans back home, but to the fans out here as well.
“I think we have felt really welcomed and really special over here. I think every game has been incredible, I think everyone has seen that first hand.
“Back home, we have seen the videos, we really appreciate everyone setting their alarm clocks and making the effort to support us.
“Even though we are a million miles apart, it is amazing what football can do in really bringing everyone together, but especially our nation. We are really proud. Stick with us for one more game.”
09:09 AM BST
More Boxpark mayhem in the offing
By Janet Eastham
Boxpark Croydon in south London has had to clear away the tables in the main arenas to stop fans from dancing on them in celebration, regulars at the venue have claimed.
“When we’ve won previously we’ve actually been dancing on the tables,” said Croydon local Mary Barnett.
“We’ve been here all the time at Boxpark,” she told The Telegraph. “It’s a great atmosphere”.
Ms Barnett, who was in prime position at the top of the queue outside the sought after venue said she and her “squad” of 13 friends have been “told off so many times” for dancing on the tables.
“They’ve actually taken the tables away, to bring more capacity, but also to stop us from going on them.”
Extra capacity is much needed at the south London venue. Across the city, 3,000 tickets to watch the final across the three Boxpark were reportedly sold out in under eight minutes.
09:07 AM BST
Fancy a flutter?
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09:00 AM BST
From Luke Edwards in Sydney
The trains from the centre of Sydney were packed with England fans and there appears to have been an “invasion of the backpackers.”
Australia is a hugely popular destination for young people in the UK to travel and work and it seems thousands of them have got tickets for this final hoping to see history being made.
As well as the usual mix of women and families, there are a lot of young men, in their 20s, here as well. It’s yet more evidence of the new crossover appeal of women’s football, especially when there’s a successful team to support.
08:59 AM BST
So who do you think will win?
England or Spain?
Glory for Sarina’s side or final sorrow caused by Spanish success?
Here’s what our stable of writers out in Sydney think will happen…
08:56 AM BST
How do you prepare for a World Cup final?
Well, if you’re the Lionesses you go for a walk in the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney, which is across the road from their hotel and has fruit bats in the trees – a peaceful stroll to get the heads right before the big game.
08:50 AM BST
The Three Lions wish the Lionesses all the best
Gareth Southgate has said he has no advice to give as “you’ve done more than us already, and you know what is needed to win.”
The message was delivered as part of a video sent by the men’s side, which you can watch here…
08:41 AM BST
Here’s a moving montage
08:36 AM BST
The England coach has left the hotel
Sarina Wiegman’s squad are on the way to Stadium Australia from their city centre hotel. The journey should take a bit under one hour.
08:34 AM BST
Millie Bright: ‘We have to play the game of our lives’
The England defender spoke ahead of today’s match to the media and here’s what she had to say on the enormity of today’s final….
“I think it has been players’ dreams for years. We know how passionate our nation is back home and how much they want us to win. But for us, there is a process. We have a game plan to execute. We need to play the game of our lives.”
08:24 AM BST
More English pre-match joy in Sydney
08:23 AM BST
A great way to get to the final
I also suspect that our very own Tom Garry is quite excited as well…
08:18 AM BST
England’s finest wish the Lionesses all the luck in the world
08:16 AM BST
Rishi Sunak tells the Lionesses ‘the nation is rooting for you’
The Prime Minister has told England’s Lionesses that the “whole nation is rooting for you” as they prepare to take on Spain in the Women’s World Cup final.
In a letter, Rishi Sunak wished England boss Sarina Wiegman and her players good luck for the final in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday, telling them: “You’ve made us all proud.”
Sunak has opted not to attend the southern hemisphere final in person, sending Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer to Australia to represent the UK Government.
Addressing the letter to “Sarina and all our Lionesses”, the Prime Minister said: “On behalf of the entire country, I want to wish you the best of luck against Spain in the World Cup final!
“Once again, this summer, you’ve made us all proud.
“From beating the Aussies in their own backyard to winning that penalty shoot-out, you have inspired us with your skill, teamwork and courage.
“This weekend, like millions of others, I will be watching and cheering you on.
“But whatever the result, I want you to know that you have already secured a lasting legacy: that every girl in this country will have equal access to all school sport, including football.
“For my daughters, and for every girl in this country, you have made football something for them; you have made them feel they belong on the pitch.
“So – in a way – you’ve already brought football home.”
08:09 AM BST
Good omen alert!
England will, apparently, be wearing their blue away kit today (not sure why as white doesn’t clash with Spain’s red…). And as many of you will doubtless know, back in 1966 England wore their away kit of red…
07:55 AM BST
Sarina Wiegman and the Lionesses hoping to emulate the heroes of 1966
England are in the World Cup final, words no one has been able to string together in a footballing sense since 1966, and words that tend to send the UK partly crazy with a mixture of hope, expectation, excitement, and a fair few nerves.
Yes, the men’s rugby team won at the same stadium the Lionesses will play in today, back in 2003, and yes the brilliant Red Roses reached the World Cup final only last November. And who can forget Anya Shrubsole and Co, as well as Eoin Morgan’s men, landing global glory in 2017 and 2019 respectively? But there’s something about the national game and the search for World Cup success that has lifted today’s final into the higher reaches of the country’s consciousness.
Just uttering 1966 tends to make even the average English person go misty eyed (regardless whether they were alive then or not) and becoming the first England football team to win a senior final on the world stage since Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Geoff Hurst and the legion of legends did it 57 years ago is at the forefront of Sarina Wiegman’s mind.
“Everyone is talking about 1966, so let’s be at our best on Sunday and try and be successful,” the England manager said. “Making a final is special but with thi8s team and the challenges we had, how we find a way all the time to solve problems has been amazing. It’s very special being in a final but now we want to win it too.”
Whisper it quietly but England have been far from their best on their path to today’s showdown against Spain. They were pushed all the way in the knockout games against Nigeria and Colombia and it was only in that memorable semi-final victory over hosts Australia that they began to show what they can really do.
Stay here for all the pre-match build-up, team news (will Lauren James return to the starting XI?) and action, with kick-off set for 11am.
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