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Rediff.com  » Sports » Women's World Cup PIX: Australia makes history; England reach semis

Women's World Cup PIX: Australia makes history; England reach semis

Last updated on: August 12, 2023 19:34 IST
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IMAGE: Australia's Mackenzie Arnold celebrates with teammates after winning the penalty shootout and progressing to the semi finals of the World Cup. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters

Co-hosts Australia beat France 7-6 in a dramatic penalty shootout to reach the last four of the Women's World Cup for the first time after their quarter-final finished deadlocked at 0-0 following extra time on Saturday.

Australia goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold saved three French penalties and missed one herself in the shootout but it was teenager Vicki Becho hitting the post with the 12th spot-kick that opened the door for the hosts.

Cortnee Vine showed nerves of steel when she stepped up to fire the ball past Solene Durand into the bottom right corner of the net and send the Matildas into a semi-final against England or Colombia on Wednesday.

The substitute winger raced back towards the centre circle to celebrate with her team mates as the stadium and fan zones around the country exploded in delight.

 

IMAGE: Australia players react during the penalty shootout. Photograph: Dan Peled/Reuters

Arnold hit the post with what would have been the winning spot-kick before the shootout went to sudden death, but she kept her focus to twice save penalties from Kenza Dali, seeing the first scratched off because she moved off the line.

"It's unreal," said Arnold. "At the end of the day, it's my job to keep the ball out of the net. And thankfully I could do that for them. But we all do it for each other out there, and they have my back 100%."

Spain will play Sweden on Tuesday in Auckland for the other spot in the final.

"GOLIATH OF A GOALIE"

France, who were looking to reach the semi-finals for the second time after 2011, had the better of the first half and extra time and will rue a few chances left out on the pitch as they head home.

IMAGE: Australia coach Tony Gustavsson celebrates with Australia's Tameka Yallop daughter Harley Rose after the match. Photograph: Dan Peled/Reuters

"I would like to congratulate my players for the performance they pulled off today against the entire nation," said France coach Herve Renard.

"We came up against a goliath of a goalie. What a game, in normal time, in extra time and then during the penalty shootout."

France had the best of the early chances with Maelle Lakrar fluffing a golden opportunity to give Les Bleues the lead from a corner in the 12th minute.

Australia's only early chances came against the run of play from set pieces but forward Mary Fowler had as many as six as the game opened up around halftime, the best stopped by a sensational block from defender Elisa de Almeida.

IMAGE: Australia's Cortnee Vine celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning penalty during the penalty shootout and progressing to the semi finals of the World Cup. Photograph: Dan Peled/Reuters

Matildas striker Sam Kerr, still struggling with a calf injury, came on in the 55th minute and her first charge forward gave Hayley Raso space for a shot that France's starting goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin did well to push over.

France weathered the storm triggered by the introduction of the Australia skipper, however, and their 19-year-old substitute Becho was soon threatening down the other end.

The last quarter of an hour of normal time was a tense but ragged affair with half chances at both ends, a theme reprised in the first half of extra time.

Australia's Alanna Kennedy headed the ball into her own net in the 100th minute under the attentions of Wendy Renard only for the France captain to be penalised for a foul on Caitlin Foord.

France had the better of the second period with Becho lashing a shot from the edge of the box in the 107th minute that goalkeeper Arnold saved well in a precursor to her heroics in the shootout.

Russo's second-half goal lifts England into World Cup semi-finals

England

IMAGE: England's Alessia Russo scores. Photograph: Jaimi Joy/Reuters

Alessia Russo's second-half goal lifted England to a thrilling 2-1 quarter-final victory over Colombia on Saturday and into the Women's World Cup semi-finals for the third consecutive time.

Lauren Hemp also scored for the European champions, who now face hosts Australia on Wednesday in Sydney for a place in their first World Cup final.

Colombia, who were the lowest-ranked team remaining at 25 and had never made it past the round of 16, opened the scoring with a goal from Leicy Santos to the delight of the large swathes of yellow-and-blue clad Colombian fans among the crowd of 75,784 at Stadium Australia.

The fourth-ranked Lionesses, missing top scorer Lauren James to a two-game suspension, were one of just four top-10 ranked teams left standing -- along with Sweden (3), Spain (6) and Australia (10) -- in a tournament that has been full of delightful twists and turns.

Asked what Wiegman -- the lone female head coach remaining from the original dozen -- said in the post-game huddle, Russo answered: "Sarina said that she was proud. Lots to work on and we get rested and go again."

England

IMAGE: England's Georgia Stanway in action with Colombia's Lorena Bedoya Durango. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

Russo netted the winner in the 63rd minute, pouncing on a through ball from Georgia Stanway that bounced off a Colombia defender and into the path of the Arsenal forward, who fired low and hard into the bottom corner.

Santos scored against the run of play in the 44th minute, launching a curling ball that deflected off the leg of Rachel Daly and into the top corner of the 18-yard box, grazing Mary Earps's fingertips and going into the far corner of the net.

England

IMAGE: England's Georgia Stanway in action with Colombia's Lorena Bedoya Durango. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

Trailing for the first time in the tournament, the Lionesses, who are undefeated in 37 of their last 38 games, kept their composure and when Colombian keeper Catalina Perez fumbled and lost the ball on Russo's shot, Hemp was there to poke it in from six yards out just before the halftime whistle.

Lorena Bedoya Durango had an excellent chance at an equaliser with a long-range effort late in regulation time that Earps deflected over the crossbar.

Eighteen-year-old Linda Caicedo, who was one of the most exciting players at the World Cup, had a last chance deep in extra time but shook her head after firing the ball over the bar.

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