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FIFA Women's World Cup

England beat Australia to reach first Women’s World Cup final

England reached the Women’s World Cup final for the first time as they spoiled co-hosts Australia’s party on a historic evening in Sydney.

Silencing a sell-out crowd at Stadium Australia with their 3-1 victory, the Lionesses became the first England football team since 1966 to reach a senior final on the world stage.

It caps a sensational two years under manager Sarina Wiegman as England, crowned European champions for the first time last year on home soil, showed their superiority and know-how to see off an Australia side spurred on by a nation who have been inspired by the Matildas’ success.

Ella Toone gave England the lead in the first half with a superb first-time strike which sailed into the top corner.

The Lionesses controlled proceedings until the second half when Australia threw everything at them and star striker Sam Kerr – starting her first match of the tournament – struck a 25-yard stunner over goalkeeper Mary Earps’ head to make it 1-1.

Build-up to this semi-final has dominated every aspect of Australian life this week as cities across the country became absorbed in ‘Matildas Mania’.

Fans were queueing outside fan parks in Sydney five hours before kick-off, train stations were decorated in yellow and green balloons, shops sold out of merchandise, and newspapers had the players’ faces plastered over their front and back pages.

All focus was on the co-hosts’ attempts to create history, but England quietly went about their business and arrived in Sydney ready to compete in their third successive Women’s World Cup semi-final.

Their experience of handling big occasions was evident from the first minute as they disrupted Australia’s rhythm and made every attempt to frustrate the crowd, taking their time over throw-ins and breaking down dangerous counter-attacks.

It worked for large parts, but when Australia fought their way back into the game through Kerr, England had to find another way – and they did.

But England, as they so often do, found a way back into the game when Lauren Hemp pounced on a defensive error to restore their lead, before Alessia Russo made sure of victory late on to set up a final with Spain on Sunday.

Build-up to this semi-final has dominated every aspect of Australian life this week as cities across the country became absorbed in ‘Matildas Mania.’

Fans were queueing outside fan parks in Sydney five hours before kick-off, train stations were decorated in yellow and green balloons, shops sold out of merchandise, and newspapers had the players’ faces plastered over their front and back pages.

All focus was on the co-hosts’ attempts to create history, but England quietly went about their business and arrived in Sydney ready to compete in their third successive Women’s World Cup semi-final.

Their experience of handling big occasions was evident from the first minute as they disrupted Australia’s rhythm and made every attempt to frustrate the crowd, taking their time over throw-ins and breaking down dangerous counter-attacks.

It worked for large parts, but when Australia fought their way back into the game through Kerr, England had to find another way – and they did.

Backs against the wall, England’s defence, who have been magnificent throughout the tournament, stepped up to make blocks, tackles and head away relentless balls into the box.

“My thought was ‘we’re not going to give this away now’,” said Wiegman, reflecting on Australia’s equaliser. “You are never sure. But it was later in the game so we got through.”

Hemp and Russo’s flourishing partnership up front ultimately decided the game when they combined late on – Manchester City winger Hemp with a superb no-look pass to set-up Russo.

“That was just an incredible pass,” added Wiegman. “The finish was really good too. I’m really happy with the performance and the players themselves are happy too.”

England’s celebrations at full-time were initially subdued. They have created history but this is a team of winners and they have not finished yet.

Credit: BBC Sport 

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