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England Advances to World Cup Final after Battling Australia Fightback
- Updated: August 17, 2023
Australia’s aspirations of securing a home World Cup victory were dashed by an unyielding England side, as they triumphed with a 3-1 win, securing a place in Sunday’s final.
The semi-final clash, held in Sydney, garnered the attention of two nations striving for their inaugural World Cup final appearance. This marked only England’s second encounter with a tournament host, the previous instance being against Canada in the 2015 quarter-finals. Australia, on the other hand, ventured into uncharted territory, reaching this stage for the first time in their history.
The captains of the respective sides, Sam Kerr and Millie Bright, led their teams onto the pitch in a battle between the Blues. The formidable defensive duo of Jess Carter and Millie Bright, having displayed exceptional synergy in earlier matches, stood strong for England. Meanwhile, Niamh Charles and Hannah Hampton awaited their potential involvement from the substitutes’ bench. Lauren James, however, remained sidelined due to a two-match suspension.
Early stages of the match were charged with energy, as both teams sought to establish dominance. Within the first 10 minutes, clear-cut chances emerged at both ends, with Kerr’s effort denied by the offside flag and Mary Earps, and Mackenzie Arnold thwarting Georgia Stanway’s close-range attempt.
As the contest progressed, opportunities dwindled, but the atmosphere within the stadium fueled the intensity of the encounter. The fierce rivalry between these renowned teams was evident in spells of possession and counter-attacks. The only missing element was a clinical finish.
Just before halftime, Ella Toone’s sensational strike transformed the landscape. The midfielder elegantly navigated the penalty area, executing a first-time wonder strike that nestled into the top-right corner of the net. The goal silenced the home crowd and granted England a slim lead going into the break.
The second half was a decisive juncture for both sides. Sarina Wiegman’s team stood 45 minutes away from their first-ever World Cup final appearance, while Australia sought to seize the pivotal next goal to revive their home-tournament aspirations. England persisted in threatening, with Lauren Hemp’s effort saved by Arnold, and Millie Bright narrowly missing a headed chance from a corner delivered by Alex Greenwood.
Around the 60-minute mark, Sam Kerr displayed her knack for seizing significant moments, drawing Australia level with a remarkable strike. The skipper embarked on a solo run against her club companion Bright before unleashing a dipping shot that eluded the fully stretched Mary Earps, rekindling the contest and igniting the home crowd.
Nevertheless, England emerged triumphant with further goals from Hemp and Alessia Russo, effectively dashing Australian hopes. Niamh Charles contributed in the closing stages, aiding England in securing the victory and cementing their spot in the World Cup final. The final showdown against Spain in Sydney on Sunday offers England the chance to vie for world supremacy.
By – Sahiba Suri