England has reached the Women’s World Cup final after defeating home nation fan favourites Australia 3-1 in Sydney.
Goals from Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo sealed the victory last night for the Lionesses despite Sam Kerr’s moment of magic when she smashed the ball into the top corner from outside the box in the 63rd minute.
Riding a wave of national pride the Matildas received a rapturous ovation at either end of the game despite the loss, in a tournament that has seemingly marked a watershed moment for women’s sport in Australia.
“It was the conversion rate and converting chances that let us down,” Matildas’ coach Tony Gustavsson said after the match.
“They had five shots on targets all game and scored three goals. It’s one of those nights where they were more clinical than us.
“In the second half, we let go a bit, and when we did that, we started to dominate the game. I’m happy the fans gave support after the game. We promised each other that we would leave it all out there, and we did, but it wasn’t enough.”
Going into the semi-final, the Matildas were keen to defeat England again this year after they beat the Lionesses 2-0 in London in April.
However, the Euros winners had a stellar World Cup after they came back against Colombia 2-1 in the quarter-finals and only conceded two goals in the tournament.
— Football World ⚽ (@Niverna_) August 16, 2023
The Matildas waltzed into the semi-final after a thrilling 0-0 (7-6) penalty shootout win against France.
Australia had recorded underwhelming performances against Ireland and Nigeria in their opening two tournament games, but since then, the defeat of Olympic gold medallists Canada 4-0 and their dominant 2-0 victory in their round of 16 clash against Denmark showed the Matildas were well and truly at their best again, setting up a thrilling clash between two of the top 10 heavyweights in women’s football.
— Rachel (@rgell1) August 16, 2023
The opening 10 minutes saw both teams show their attacking intent, as England’s Georgia Stanway and Matildas captain Sam Kerr both challenged the keepers.
As the game continued, the Lionesses began to take possession which troubled the Matildas defence.
In the 36th minute Ella Toone broke the tense stalemate, smashing the ball into the top right corner after a cutback provided by Russo. Towards the end of the half, the Matildas did show some promising signs, sending in three crosses that asked questions of the Euro’s champions’ defence. But after the physical half, where England dominated 63 per cent of the possession and conceded nine fouls, the Lionesses led the Matildas 1-0.
— bps (@brittanyschmelz) August 16, 2023
Australia started the second half positively, dominating possession and forcing England goalkeeper Mary Earps into action.
As Australia continued to pile the pressure, Kerr sent Stadium Australia into a frenzy after receiving the ball at the halfway line, then dribbled up the pitch before shooting just outside the box to beat Earps with a mighty strike in the top left corner.
But it was only eight minutes later Australia went behind again.
Millie Bright sent a ball over the top of the Australian defence to Hemp, who sneaked up behind Ellie Carpenter to gain possession of the ball and slotted it into the bottom corner.
A few minutes later England sealed the result when Hemp dribbled the ball into space and picked out Russo, who made no mistake with her shot.
Although Australia had several chances in the last 10 minutes of the game, it almost seemed the Matildas were too tired from there hard-fought quarter-final against France on Saturday.
Feel like England went up a gear when Australia equalised. Scrappy goal but Hemp deserved that today. She's been immense #FIFAWWC
— Saroop Chana (@SaroopChana) August 16, 2023
The Lionesses will take on a youthful but ascendant Spanish side in the World Cup Final on Sunday night at 8pm.
This game will certainly not disappoint, with both teams looking to cement history and win the Women’s World Cup for the first time.
England will also welcome Lauren James back from suspension, and Spain will be looking to overcome their 2-1 defeat against England in the Euros quarter-finals last year.
For the Matildas, they will play-off against Sweden in Brisbane on Saturday Night at 6pm for third place. You can watch both games on Optus Sport and Channel 7.
Main Image courtesy of Optus Sport