England broke Australia’s hearts with an emphatic 3-1 victory over the co-hosts in an enthralling 2023 Women’s World Cup semi-final showdown. The final is due to be played between Spain and England on Sunday, 20th August at 11:00 UK time, with the game shown live on BBC and ITV, and extensive post-match coverage available on FootballExtras.net as well as other football news outlets.
History beckons for Sarina Wiegman and her charges after they thrived in the face of adversity to book a place in their first-ever Women’s World Cup final, only a year after hoisting a maiden European Championship title.
The Lionesses entered the semi-finals as one of just two nations to have gone unbeaten in the first five matchdays (W5), knowing a game at a sold-out Olympic Stadium in Sydney would be their sternest test yet.
But despite being forced to deal with a hostile environment in Australia’s capital, England produced arguably their best performance of the tournament to reach a historic feat.
Except for a 6-1 demolition of minnows China, they had struggled in front of goal in their first five World Cup games, casting doubt on their chances of penetrating the Matildas’ rock-solid backline.
As expected, the reigning European champions found clear-cut opportunities at a premium in the opening half an hour.
When it looked like they could fail to score before half-time for only the second time in the tournament, Ella Toone’s moment of inspiration helped England break the deadlock in the 36th minute.
The Manchester United midfielder pounced on Alessia Russo’s lay-off with power and precision, hammering home a thunderbolt first-time finish from an acute angle.
Despite heading into the break a goal down, Australia showed some promising signs in the first half on Sam Kerr’s first 2023 Women’s World Cup start.
While the Chelsea forward failed to influence the game in the early exchanges, she demonstrated her class with a brilliant solo goal to level the score midway through the second half.
Kerr picked up the ball at the halfway line and ran solo at two England defenders before unleashing an unstoppable effort from long range into the top corner.
Though the Lionesses coach Wiegman warned her side Australia ‘are not just Sem Kerr’ in the build-up, as quoted by BBC, the Matildas’ all-time top-scorer was pretty much a lone ranger today.
Apart from the goal, the 29-year-old was the hosts’ driving force in the front third.
Man City’s Lauren Hemp overshadowed Kerr’s stunning equaliser, stealing the show down the final stretch to catapult the Lionesses into the grand final.
Hemp helped England restore the lead within ten minutes. She took advantage of Ellie Carpenter’s poor defensive reaction to pick out a far bottom corner with a pinpoint finish from inside the box.
Australia came close to re-establishing a stalemate minutes later. However, Kerr inexplicably failed to hit the target from a couple of yards out after a havoc inside England’s six-yard box.
Russo brutally punished Tony Gustavsson’s side for the wasted chance.
The new Arsenal striker received a delightful through ball from Hemp and showcased her poaching skills again to put the game to bed.
After guiding Lionesses to continental glory last summer, Wiegman has orchestrated her team’s run to the World Cup title decider, making England the sixth nation to reach both a women’s and men’s World Cup final.
Wiegman’s side cannot afford to get complacent if they’re to bring home the coveted trophy, with an arduous task awaiting them in the showpiece event.
England will trade tackles with Spain in Sunday’s grand final in Sydney, while Australia and Sweden fight for the bronze medal in a third-place play-off a day before.
With the United States, the back-to-back Women’s World Cup winners, out of the picture, the upcoming final will yield a new champion.