Ella Toone has labelled her late equaliser for England against Spain as the best feeling she has experienced in her football career, after helping to save the Lionesses from the brink of Euro 2022 elimination.
England were six minutes away from being knocked out of their home European Championships at the quarter final stage on Wednesday evening after Esther Gonzalez had given Spain a 1-0 lead shortly after the restart.
But after being introduced just after the hour mark, Toone popped up to stab home fellow substitute Alessia Russo’s knockdown and send the game to extra time, where England would go on to win 2-1 thanks to a stunning Georgia Stanway goal.
“I knew that I had to come on and change the game and help the team and I managed to be in the right place at the right time to slot it in,” Toone recalled. “It was probably the best feeling I’ve ever had in football.
“I just knew my role tonight and managed to come on and change the game. (My role) was just to find the pockets of space and to hold my position in the pocket. Just get in the box and make things happen, and obviously right time, right place.
“I knew Alessia would win that header and it was just about getting in and around it and winning the second ball, and I’m just over the moon I could come on and help the team.”
After Russo had emerged from the bench to net a brace against Northern Ireland last time out, Wednesday evening’s victory saw Sarina Wiegman’s substitutes again make a telling impact.
While Russo and Toone combined for England’s equaliser, fellow substitute Chloe Kelly was a thorn in the side of the Spain backline and offered the Lionesses another dimension. Alex Greenwood stepped off the bench to enable Millie Bright to have a spell up front as England initially searched for the equaliser, and did a superb defensive job against Athenea del Castillo, who had been wreaking havoc down the England left following her half time introduction.
“It’s about all 23 players, we’ve said that right from the start,” Toone added. “Everyone plays a different role and obviously the substitutes know their role when they’re coming on and I think we’ve done that in every game.
“We’ve come on and tried to change the game in a positive way and obviously tonight I’ve managed to get on the scoresheet. The main thing is that we got the win.
“It shows we’ve got character, resilience, togetherness and there was never a doubt that we would go on and win that game and that’s just the mindset and the belief that we have in each other.
“It’s great for the momentum; that was our first challenge in this tournament. It shows we can come from behind in a game which is a great asset and I’m just so proud of everyone.”