Co-host Australia’s dream run in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 came to an end as they were defeated by England in the semifinal at Stadium Australia, Sydney. The match was eagerly anticipated as it pitted two fierce rivals against each other, with a place in the final against Spain hanging in the balance.
The Australian team, buoyed by their home support, started the game with an attacking mindset. They made two changes to their starting XI, with Sam Kerr returning to the lineup and Clare Polkinghorne replacing the ill Alanna Kennedy. England, on the other hand, fielded an unchanged side from their quarterfinal victory over Colombia.
The Lionesses began the game by focusing on ball possession and utilising the flanks. Australia, adopting a high line, attempted to pressure England off the ball. In the 7th minute, Australia had a golden opportunity to take the lead as Hayley Raso passed the ball to Sam Kerr, who had a clear path to goal. However, England goalkeeper Mary Earps made a courageous save to deny Kerr. The offside flag was later raised, indicating a close decision.
England received their first yellow card of the match in the 10th minute, with Alex Greenwood being cautioned. The Lionesses continued to control the game from the centre of the field, with Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo combining well in the attacking third. Despite Australia’s efforts, England managed to break the deadlock in the 36th minute through Ella Toone. A cross from Hemp was not cleared effectively by the Australian defence, allowing Toone to score from close range.
Australia had a chance to equalise in the 43rd minute when Cooney-Cross delivered a powerful cross into the box. However, England’s Jessica Carter made a crucial defensive header to deny Australia. The first half ended with England leading 1-0.
As the second half commenced, Australia looked determined to find an equaliser. Ellie Carpenter delivered a cross from the right flank, but Carter defended well to clear the danger. In the 57th minute, Catley’s attempted cross was intercepted, leading to a speculative shot by Hemp. However, Australia’s goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold made a comfortable save.
Australia finally found the equaliser in the 63rd minute when Sam Kerr unleashed a magnificent strike from outside the box. Her shot beat Earps comprehensively, and the home crowd erupted in celebration.
However, their joy was short-lived as Lauren Hemp restored England’s lead in the 70th minute, capitalising on a defensive error.
Australia made substitutions in an attempt to find a way back into the game, but England remained resolute in defence. In the 85th minute, Russo capitalised on a superb play by Hemp to make it 3-1 in England’s favour.
Despite six minutes of added time, Australia couldn’t mount a comeback, and the match ended with England securing a 3-1 victory.
Their place in the final against Spain awaited them on Sunday, while Australia would have to settle for a third/fourth place match against Sweden on Saturday.
England’s victory was well-deserved, with their clinical finishing and solid defence proving to be the difference. The Lionesses will look to bring home the Women’s World Cup trophy, while Australia can take pride in their impressive tournament run as co-hosts.
Fixtures: 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Saturday, 19 August: Fourth/Third Place
Australia vs Sweden 10h00
Sunday, 20 August: Final
Spain vs England 12h00
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