Lionesses end the Matildas’ run to reach the Women’s World Cup final for the first time and set up a clash with Spain.
England have reached their first Women’s World Cup final after a 3-1 victory over Australia, despite a wonder goal from Matildas striker Sam Kerr as the co-hosts’ fairytale run came to an end.
Attacking midfielder Ella Toone gave England a first-half lead on Wednesday, but a stunning strike from captain Kerr, making her first start of the tournament, squared things up after half-time as Stadium Australia erupted in euphoria.
However, Lauren Hemp restored England’s lead before Alessia Russo put the result beyond doubt shortly before the end.
England, who fell at the semifinal stage in the previous two World Cups, face Spain on Sunday, looking to add a world title to last year’s European Championship triumph.
Sarina Wiegman’s side clearly had a game plan to impose themselves physically on Australia, committing nine fouls in the first half as they nullified their opponents’ attacking options.
England opened the scoring in the 36th minute when Russo worked her way to the byline before cutting the ball back and Toone smashed it into the top right corner for her first goal of the tournament.
Australia started the second half much brighter and began pressing England higher up the pitch, searching for a historic moment that would match Cathy Freeman’s incredible 400 metres victory in the same venue at the 2000 Olympics.
They got it in the 63rd minute when Kerr received the ball in her own half, ran towards the goal and fired an unstoppable rocket into the top left corner from 25 yards out beyond the diving Mary Earps.
The stadium erupted as Australia fans finally saw their golden girl score at this tournament, reigniting hope that Tony Gustavsson’s side could yet play for the title.
But the hosts found themselves behind again less than 10 minutes later.
A long ball over the top from Millie Bright was not dealt with by Matildas defender Ellie Carpenter, allowing Hemp an easy finish into the bottom corner to restore England’s lead.
The 23-year-old was involved again as the game entered the final minutes, turning brilliantly on the halfway line before running towards the goal and releasing Russo, who fired a low shot into the far corner to seal England’s place in the final.
Both England and Spain will be playing their first Women’s World Cup final when they meet at Stadium Australia on Sunday.
Australia will play Sweden for third place on Saturday in Brisbane.
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