The tense matchup created chances at both ends, but goals from Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo sealed victory against a tough Australia team.
By Sunita Patel-Carstairs, news reporter @SunnyNadal
Wed 16 Aug 2023 7:31pm UK
Lionesses coach Sarina Wiegman says her team is living “a fairy tale” after beating Australia to reach the Women’s World Cup final for the first time.
England beat hosts Australia 3-1 in Sydney thanks to goals from Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo.
Victory means Las Leonas will take on Spain on Sunday, kicking off at 11 a.m.
King sends message to Lionesses – reaction to England’s semi-final win
Wiegman said: “We made the final! It’s unbelievable, it feels like we’ve won [the tournament] which we didn’t, we just won this game, in an amazing stadium, an away game, the way we played, it was a tough game, but we found a way to win again.
“People have been talking about cruelty all the time, in this team there is cruelty, up front or in defense. We really want to keep the ball out of the net and we want to win.”
“We stuck together, we stuck to the plan and it worked again.”
The tense semi-final showdown brought early chances at both ends, but England struck first with a superb shot from Toone that silenced the crowd and gave the Lionesses a 1-0 half-time lead.
Thousands of fans from all over England took a break from work to watch the game. There were jubilant scenes in the fan parks, which erupted when Toone’s shot hit the back of the net.
Toone’s goal was the first Australia had conceded in five hours and 54 minutes. After losing 3-2 to Nigeria in the group stage, the Matildas kept three clean sheets.
Australia needed some magic to keep their World Cup hopes alive, and they found it in forward Sam Kerr, who collected the ball at the halfway line and struck from 25 yards to level the game.
But England were undeterred and did what they had to do to book their place in the world masterpiece with a second goal, this time from Hemp, who fired past Australian goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold some 20 minutes from time.
Russo closed the match with a goal in the 86th minute.
“(I’m) over the moon, unbelievable. I think a World Cup final, we’ve been saying we’ve been dreaming of semi-finals, but now that’s what it’s all about, a World Cup final with this group, I I’m buzzing,” he told BBC One.
Wiegman said: “I have just told [assistant manager] Arjan, to have the opportunity as a coach or a player to reach two finals is really special. I never take anything for granted, but it’s like I’m living in a fairy tale or something.”
Wiegman also paid tribute to the Matildas: “Australia have had an amazing tournament, they grew in the tournament. They had a few setbacks, they had to win their last group game and then they just got better and better.
“Sam Kerr is back, we saw today why he’s the star of the team, but it’s also very difficult to play against them as a team.”
“We all dream of being in the final,” England’s Lucy Bronze said after the final whistle.
“It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted: to reach the World Cup final… I can’t believe it.”
England men’s captain Harry Kane told Sky Sports News: “Massive congratulations to the Lionesses. They deserve it. We all have our back and hope they can do it in the final.”
“We saw what happened when the Lionesses won the Euro and how much it brought the country together. I’ll be watching the final here in Germany.”
King Charles said in a statement: “My wife and I join our entire family in sending the mighty Lionesses our warmest congratulations on reaching the World Cup final and sharing our best wishes for Sunday’s game.” .
“While their victory may have cost the magnificent Matildas their shot at the game’s biggest prize, both teams have been an inspiration on and off the pitch and for that, both nations are united in pride, admiration and respect”.
Former England striker Gary Lineker added his congratulations, writing on X (formerly Twitter): “Well played Lionesses. Absolutely terrific performance. A World Cup final. A football World Cup final. It’s been a while. What a wonderful achievement.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added his thoughts on the game, posting: “What a performance Lionesses. Only one more game to go… Bring on Sunday.”
The Welsh Guards Band performed one of England’s football anthems, Sweet Caroline, during the changing of the guard outside Buckingham Palace on Wednesday after the victory.
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