It didn’t all go the hosts’ way, however, as Sarina Wegmann’s side had to overcome some serious pressure in the first half from a world-class Swede.
But Beth Meade’s clever turn and his ending half an hour later calmed an apparent England nerve and since then it has looked like only one winner.
Lucy Bronze’s header from a corner early in the second half and then a stunning back-heeled goal from substitute Alicia Russo sent 28,624 fans inside Bramall Lane into ecstasy, before lob Fran Kirby added a sheen to an already impressive scoreline.
After all, Sweden is currently ranked second in the world, as England previously recorded only three victories over Sweden in its entire history.
In what was already a record-breaking tournament for attendance figures, Tuesday’s match set a new attendance record for the Euros semi-finals.
After defeats in the semi-finals at the 2019 World Cup, Euro 2017, England will now play in the final against Germany or France at Wembley Stadium on July 31.
“We found a way. The players in the match found a way out of their pressure. I am very proud of them.”
The nerves that were evident in most of the quarter-final matches against Spain reappeared in the early stages against Sweden.
England goalkeeper Mary Earps was called into action in the first minute to block Sophia Jacobson’s attempt after the ball was caught by Georgia Stanway in midfield.
Earps’ last clever fender once again held the scores just minutes later, this time wasting the effort of Stina Blackstenius strapped around the post. From the resulting corner Sweden had their best chance yet as Blacksteinius beat Erbs on the ball, but seeing as she could only find the crossbar.
With England seeking possession control, Sweden was a real threat over the counter. The attacking trio of Blacksteinius, Kosovare Aslani and Fridolina Rulfo in particular have been causing nightmares for England’s defenders, pulling them this way and that with their alternating paths.
Half an hour later, England had barely scored a chance worth mentioning. Indeed, the highlight of the Ducks’ opening 30 minutes was a stunning slipping tackle from Kirby, who followed the length of the field to deny Sweden the opportunity to score clear goals.
England manager Wigman once again chose the same starting lineup she had played in the first four matches of Euro 2022, and was unfazed by the somewhat toothless display in most of the quarter-final matches against Spain.
Wiegman needed all her tactical savvy to turn this game around with substitutions, but her trusted scorer Mead made sure that wouldn’t be necessary this time around.
With 10 minutes left in the first half, England found the breakthrough seemingly out of nowhere. After Lauren Hemp’s cross in the penalty area missed Eileen White’s shoe by an inch, Bronze did a fine job of keeping the ball in play and returning it to the penalty area.
Meade took one touch, turned and dug the ball into the far corner to send Bramal Lane’s crowd raving. It was a brilliant goal, probably her best in the tournament so far, and it put her absolutely 1st in the Golden Boot race by six goals.
He also equaled the most goals scored in a single European Championship, matching the tally of Inka Grings of Finland 2009.
More importantly, he finally settled England’s nerves and for the first time in the match Wigman’s team started to dominate. Chances came to Kirby and Stanway, but they couldn’t test Root Hedwig Lindahl against Sweden from distance.
When the whistle came at the end of the first half, Sweden was relieved to hear it and England were now only 45 minutes away from the final.
The second half started the same way and soon England got their opponent back.
The cannabis was again down the left causing all sorts of problems for Sweden and the Manchester City winger’s cross to Meade from behind was hampered by a suede boot. However, Lucy Bronze’s towering header from a corner kick slipped past the far post and put England in complete control of this semi-final.
Russo was England’s champion in this tournament, scoring three goals from the bench so far. When brought in just before the hour mark against Sweden, the effect was immediate as the drive was turned on and a low cross pass found Hemp in the far corner.
But with the goal gap, the winger can only shift his effort towards the crossbar.
Sweden had a great chance for half the difference, but Erbs’ full fingertip save denied Blacksteinius a goal.
However, with just over 20 minutes left to play, the match ended as a competition with a moment of genius from Russo. After her initial effort – which she should have scored – was fended off by Lindahl, Russo improvised with a rear wheel plate that completely stunned the Swedish goalkeeper as she squeezed through her legs.
It was a magic piece that sums up the best of this English team as it begins to dismantle one of the best teams in the world.
Kirby quickly added the icing on the cake with just over 15 minutes left to play, as he threw the ball from long distance over Lindahl. The Swedish goalkeeper should have done a better job really, but let the ball writh in her hands, capping a night she’ll want to forget in a hurry.
The victory completes Weigmann’s impressive personal record of not losing a match in the Euros. Everyone in England hopes the race can only go on for one more match.