Nations League victory against the Dutch arrives at the last despite a lack of clarity and brittleness creeping into the team

They’ll always have Paris. Throughout this Nations League campaign this has been an England team fighting its own sense of entropy, still giving everything, still trying the same plans and processes in the hope that eventually something would click. And at 9.34pm on a briskly cold Wembley night, it finally did. Ella Toone’s injury-time goal earned England three points and kept their faintly glowing Olympic dream alive. But somehow it also did so much more.

It breathed life into a team and a cycle, and a moment that for so much of the evening had felt like it was drawing to its natural conclusion provided a rousing encore to a cast preparing for its final curtain. There will be new challenges and new frontiers to conquer soon enough, a fresh set of European Championship qualifiers in the spring, but for now this iteration of the Lionesses still has tricks up its sleeve, still has talent and creativity to burn, still has a fire that can scorch any team on the planet.

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