England secured their first FIFA Women’s World Cup final appearance following a thrilling 3-1 win over Australia here on Wednesday.
Ella Toone had given the Lionesses a first-half lead before Sam Kerr equalised for the co-hosts,
but goals from Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo set up a decider with Spain on Sunday.
It was an open game from the start and England were denied the lead inside the first 10 minutes, when Mackenzie Arnold saved Georgia Stanway’s shot with her right leg following a fine pass from Alex Greenwood.
England edged ahead on 36 minutes when Russo showed tenacity in the penalty area to pull the ball back for Toone to rifle a shot into the top corner, the FIFA reported.
But Australia levelled on 63 minutes with an even finer strike, as Kerr received the ball on the halfway line before running at her Chelsea team-mate Millie Bright and then unleashing a 30-yard rocket, which flew over Mary Earps.
Yet parity lasted just eight minutes as the Australia defence failed to deal with Bright’s long ball forward, and Hemp showed great desire and placed her shot beyond Arnold.
Kerr missed two great chances to equalise again for the Matildas before England made certain of their final spot with four minutes to go, when Hemp played a superb pass through to Russo and her angled drive beat Arnold.
England coach Sarina Wiegman said, ” We achieved the final and it’s unbelievable. It feels like we won it but we didn’t win it, we just won this game. We played a hard game but again we found a way to win. We scored three goals. We have been talking about ruthlessness all the time and this team has ruthlessness, whether it is up front or in defence. We want to keep the ball out of the net and we really want to win. We stick together and stick to the plan and it worked again.”
England Footballer Lucy Bronze said, “This is the one thing I’ve always wanted, to be in the final of a World Cup. I can’t believe it. We’ve all dreamed of being in the final, family and friends have come to stay until the final, they all believed in us and to have everybody here to support us is unbelievable.”
Another England Footballer Alessia Russo said, “Over the moon, incredible. We’ve been saying we’ve been dreaming of the semis but this is what it’s all about, a World Cup final with this group. Buzzing. When they scored they got momentum, the place erupted and then Hempo’s goal just flipped the momentum which was crucial so to get 3-1 you can settle a bit and see the game out. That’s why we do what we do on the pitch, it is because of all our friends and family. To celebrate
with them now is really special.”
Australia coach Tony Gustavsson said, ” In the 81st, 83rd and 85th minutes we had three sitters in a row. It’s a failure to lose a game, but I am happy that the fans gave the players support after the game. They are proud of the players, that they leave everything out there. We promised each other we would leave everything out there and that is a success and they left it all out there. Unfortunately tonight it wasn’t enough.”
Australian player Katrina Gorry said, “That’s football. We created a lot of chances and we put a lot of pressure on them. We just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net and they did. It sucks. It feels like you let yourself down, you let your nation down. I know that we have the support of everyone and they will come out again for the game against Sweden.”