In a historic evening in Sydney, England thwarted Australia’s co-host celebrations by securing their place in the Women’s World Cup final for the first time. Silencing a packed Stadium Australia crowd, the Lionesses became the first English side since 1966 to reach the final on the world stage.
Under the guidance of manager Sarina Wiegman, England’s remarkable two-year journey unfolded. Having been crowned European champions for the first time in their history on home soil last year, they demonstrated their dominance and experience to overcome an inspired Australia side spurred on by the success of the Matildas.
Ella Toone fired England into the lead during the first half with a magnificent first-time strike that nestled in the top corner. The Lionesses maintained control until the second half, when Australia intensified their efforts. Star striker Sam Kerr, making her tournament debut, unleashed a stunning 25-yard shot over goalkeeper Mary Earps’ reach to level the score at 1-1.
ENGLAND ARE THROUGH TO THE WOMEN'S WORLD CUP FINAL 🏆
The Lionesses have the chance to win their third international trophy in a year 👀 pic.twitter.com/kQenz7UTbB
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 16, 2023
Yet, England’s resilience shone through once again. Lauren Hemp seized upon a defensive lapse to regain their advantage, and Alessia Russo sealed the victory with a late goal, setting the stage for a final showdown with Spain on Sunday.
Amid the fervor of ‘Matildas Mania,’ which gripped cities across Australia in anticipation of this semi-final, England’s understated preparation allowed them to navigate through. Arriving in Sydney for their third consecutive Women’s World Cup semi-final, the Lionesses’ adeptness in handling high-stakes occasions became evident from the start.
England disrupted Australia’s rhythm from the outset, frustrating the crowd by employing tactics such as deliberate throw-ins and strategic slowing down of counter-attacks. While these tactics yielded results for a substantial portion of the match, Australia’s resurgence, led by Kerr, required England to adapt.
With their backs against the wall, England’s resolute defense, consistently outstanding throughout the tournament, stepped up. They executed crucial blocks, tackles, and clearances to repel a relentless onslaught of balls into the box. The formidable partnership of Hemp and Russo up front ultimately proved decisive, culminating in their collaboration for the late goal. Although England’s celebrations were initially tempered at the final whistle, the significance of their accomplishment was undeniable.