In their toughest test to date, the Lionesses struggled to find the form shown throughout their record-breaking group stage performances and conceded for the first time in the tournament, as Esther Gonzalez broke the deadlock shortly after the break.
Roared on by a raucous Amex Stadium crowd, England responded and Ella Toone struck late on to send it to extra-time, where Georgia Stanway scored with a stunning long-range strike to send the Lionesses into the last four.
Next up for England will be a semi-final clash against either Sweden or Belgium on Tuesday night.
England named the same starting XI for the fourth match in a row at the tournament, while Sarina Wiegman returned to the touchline after testing negative for Covid.
It was Spain who were the better side for much of the first-half, producing their best performance of the Euros. Mariona Caldentey was particularly impressive, while Marta Cardona was close to turning the ball home at the back post in the early stages.
Despite that, England very nearly took the lead out of nowhere. A free-kick was swung into the box, it bobbled around and fell to White who smashed in from a matter of yards out. The offside flag swiftly went up though, and VAR did not come to the Lionesses’ rescue.
Nine minutes after half-time, Spain got the goal their performance deserved. Athenea del Castillo beat Rachel Daly to the ball, drove into the box and cut it back for Gonzalez. The forward took a heavy touch but still had time to catch up with the ball and fire it into the far corner. That was England’s first experience of falling behind in a competitive match under Wiegman.
The Lionesses’ first shot on target of the match did not come until midway through the second-half, and even that was a comfortable save as Daly looked to make up for her earlier error and tried her luck from distance.
England continued to press for the equaliser they desperately needed and it came through Toone. Fellow substitute Alessia Russo won the initial header, it fell for her Manchester United team-mate and Toone provided the volleyed finish from close range.
That momentum was carried into extra-time and the Amex crowd erupted as the Lionesses took the lead. Stanway drove into space, opted not to use Hemp to her right and it proved to be a wise decision as she hammered a stunning long-range strike into the top corner.
There were naturally some late nerves but England were largely confident and comfortable in seeing out the final minutes, sparking more wild scenes of celebration at the full-time whistle.