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Women’s World Cup: England see off Australia to book a place in the final

Women's World Cup: England see off Australia to book final place

England have booked their place in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final for the first time ever after a pulsating 3-1 victory over co-hosts Australia today.

Spectators in Sydney were treated to an entertaining encounter between two sides looking to make history in the tournament.

Neither Australia nor England have ever made it to the World Cup title decider, and they left everything on the pitch at the ANZ Stadium to achieve the feat.

However, it was the Lionesses who triumphed in what was an end-to-end encounter, setting up yet another mouthwatering contest against European rivals Spain in Sunday’s showpiece event.

Lauren Hemp’s second-half heroics inspired her nation to a historic victory. But Australia can bow out with their heads held high after giving the European champions a run for their money.

The Matildas kicked off their first-ever World Cup semi-final with a cautious approach, allowing Sarina Wiegman’s side plenty of possession in the opening stages.

No one would have faulted Tony Gustafsson for trying to play it safe against a significantly stronger opponent, especially with a defence that has kept a tournament-high four clean sheets to bank on.

However, his back-foot approach almost backfired when Alex Greenwood put Georgia Stanway through on goal with an exquisite through ball.

But the Matildas had Mackenzie Arnold to thank for not going behind early in the contest, as she made herself big to deny the England midfielder.

The Lionesses continued to dominate possession, but Australia were seemingly happy to invite pressure, hoping to catch the English on the counter.

England needed something special to pierce Australia’s backline, and Ella Toone rose to the occasion with half-time on the horizon, unleashing a ferocious first-time effort in the top corner.

Wiegman’s side headed into the break with a slender one-goal lead, but it was Australia who began the second period on the front foot.

England slowly grew back in the tie, and Hemp nearly doubled their lead with a 20-yard volley, but Arnold was equal to the task.

For all their pressure, the Lionesses’ failed to find a second goal, and Australia’s all-time leading goalscorer Sam Kerr was on hand to land a hammer blow.

The Chelsea striker produced a moment of magic on her first start in the tournament, rifling a wicked 25-yard strike to beat Mary Earps in the England goal.

However, a horrific piece of defending from Ellie Carpenter was all it took to undo Kerr’s brilliance as Hemp pounced on a mistake to restore England’s lead eight minutes later.

The Australian fans were put through an emotional turmoil going from euphoria to despair in minutes, and the crowd grew even more silent when Russo pounced on an exquisite pass from Hemp to slot home England’s third.

Despite Kerr’s moment of class, Australia were ultimately outclassed by the European champions – although the Chelsea striker will feel she could have done more for her country after spurning two big chances.

Clinical finishing helped England secure a place in their first-ever World Cup final, and after 2019’s heartbreak, Wiegman will hope her team turns up when they face Spain at the weekend.

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