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‘Keeping the dream alive’: Alessia Russo reacts to scoring England’s winning goal

England are preparing to face Australia in the Women’s World Cup semi-finals, with the hosts gripped by Matildas fever ahead of Wednesday’s crunch clash in Sydney.

The Lionesses reached the semi-finals as they came from behind to beat Colombia on Saturday and will return to Stadium Australia to face the hosts, with Sarina Wiegman’s side looking to reach their first ever World Cup final. Australia defeated France on penalties in what was the most-watched sporting event in the country since the 2000 Olympics, with the excitement set to build even further ahead of facing rivals England.

The World Cup semi-finals kick off tomorrow with Spain meeting Sweden in Auckland for a place in Sunday’s showpiece final. All four teams left in the World Cup are looking to win the tournament for the first time, with European champions England remaining slight favourites. Sweden were impressive in knocking out Japan in the quarter-finals, while Spain have a hugely talented squad and Australia have the momentum and backing of their home support.

Follow all the latest World Cup news and updates ahead of the semi-finals in today’s live blog.


England set to face ‘goliath of a goalie’ after Australia defeat France on penalties

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.

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.

Shot-stopper Mackenzie Arnold saved three penalties as the Matildas beat France to advance to the semi-finals on home soil

Karl Matchett14 August 2023 23:05


England would have underperformed had they not made Women’s World Cup last four – Lucy Bronze

Defender Lucy Bronze revealed England would have failed to live up to their own expectations had they not reached the World Cup semi-finals.

Alessia Russo guaranteed the Lionesses would finish no lower than fourth in the 2023 tournament when her second-half goal completed a 2-1 comeback against Colombia in Saturday’s quarter-final to set up Wednesday’s meeting with co-hosts Australia.

Third place would see England equal their best-ever finish from eight years ago in Canada, but Bronze insisted reaching this stage for the third time in the European champions’ history was the bare minimum.

The Lionesses face hosts Australia for a place in the final of the World Cup

Karl Matchett14 August 2023 22:33


England are into the World Cup semi-finals and Lucy Bronze has been here before. She was there in Canada in 2015 to be dealt the heartbreak as Laura Bassett turned the ball into her own net and gave Japan a ticket to the final; she was there for that night in Lyon four years ago where Steph Houghton’s late penalty miss provided the customary anguish and the USA marched towards yet another title.

If you’re English, there’s a certain aura that surrounds semi-finals. Its near-certainty refuses to discriminate between men’s and women’s football and has long plagued records at the game’s biggest tournament: England make it to last four and that’s as far as they will ever go.

Such an idea looks like it could be about to unravel – and there would be few better circumstances in which it could happen.

The Lionesses are into their third World Cup semi-final in a row and now it’s time for the European champions to prove they can go one step further

Jamie Braidwood14 August 2023 22:01


Spain vs Sweden: Kick-off time and how to watch on TV

Spain face Sweden in the first Women’s World Cup semi-final on Tuesday as both nations go in search of their first tournament crown.

Sweden produced their best performance of the World Cup to defeat Japan 2-1 in the quarter-finals, knocking out the team of the tournament with a display of high-tempo pressing while continuing to take their chances at set-pieces.

Centre-back Amanda Ilestedt is Sweden’s top-scorer with four goals so far, with the defender in the race for the World Cup golden boot.

Spain required Salma Paralluelo’s extra-time goal to defeat Netherlands and have navigated a player mutiny under head coach Jorge Vilda to reach their first ever World Cup semi-final.

The winner will play either England or Australia in Sunday’s World Cup final. Here’s everything you need to know.

The Women’s World Cup will crown a first-time winner as Spain face Sweden in the first semi-final

Jamie Braidwood14 August 2023 21:45


It took Sarina Wiegman a moment to fully realise the enormity of what England now face in Australia. If a World Cup semi-final wasn’t big enough, the Lionesses will now play the hosts in Sydney for a place in the final. Amid the excitement of a fresh new chapter in this historic sporting rivalry, Wiegman admitted that coming up against Australia at this stage of the tournament is “going to be bigger than I imagined”.

But the Dutch coach was also focused on what had just come before, rather than what awaits England next. A semi-final against Australia is the dream fixture that will take this enthralling World Cup to another level, but England could not afford to take anything for granted given the way their quarter-final against Colombia unfolded. The manner of England’s victory, though, will only add to their growing confidence when they play the hosts on Wednesday.

The Lionesses once again showed their resilience to come from behind against Colombia and reach the World Cup semi-finals

Jamie Braidwood14 August 2023 20:01


Will England stick with Ella Toone against Australia?

England will again have to cope without star forward Lauren James as she serves the final game of a two-match suspension for stepping on the back of Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie.

She was replaced by Ella Toone against Colombia, who after the match said: “She’s been amazing for us, but I’ve got to believe in myself and I’ve got to have that confidence going onto the pitch. I don’t let anything get me down, I don’t put that pressure on myself and I know my team-mates don’t either.”

(The FA via Getty Images)

Karl Matchett14 August 2023 19:01


Women’s World Cup: The race for the golden boot

Hinata Miyazawa is at the top of the standings with five goals, but Japan are out of the World Cup after their defeat to Sweden in the quarter-finals.

Alexandra Popp, one of the pre-tournament favourites for the golden boot, is also out and will be unable to add any more to her four goals after the two-time champions crashed out in the group stages.

Lauren James is among those on three goals, but the forward has been handed a two-match ban by Fifa after her red card against Nigeria and will be out of the quarter-finals and semi-finals, if her teammates get there.

Hinata Miyazawa moved to five goals after sealing Japan’s 3-1 win against Norway

Jamie Braidwood14 August 2023 18:01


Sweden centre back Amanda Ilestedt looms as an unlikely candidate to claim the Golden Boot at the Women’s World Cup but it comes as no surprise to her team mates.

Ahead of Tuesday’s semi-final against Spain, Ilestedt has four goals for the tournament, one shy of the leading Hinata Miyazawa, who can no longer add to her tally after Japan’s elimination by Sweden in the quarter-finals.

All of Ilestedt’s goals have come from set pieces, while eight out of Sweden’s 11 goals at the tournament have followed dead-ball set-ups.

“I think set pieces is one our biggest strengths and something we work on,” Sweden captain Kosovare Asllani told reporters on Monday.

“I mean, Amanda is amazing, but we have so many players that are really good in the area. In the end, I don’t think anyone cares who’s the leading goal-scorer.

“The only thing we’re thinking about is winning games.”

Jamie Braidwood14 August 2023 17:31


Can Lionesses cope with the Austalia crowd?

Stadium Australia boasts more than 75,000 seats, most of which will be occupied by the home support on Wednesday.

That does not faze England captain Millie Bright, who said: “For me, no matter who the fans are, you’re actually quite proud of it as well, we want that in a World Cup, we want it to be people turning on the TV and saying ‘god, look at the crowd, it’s incredible’.

“As a player you feel that and you use it to your advantage as well, it’s not a disadvantage that there might be a lot of Australia fans there. “

Jamie Braidwood14 August 2023 17:01


Keira Walsh on captain Leah Williamson making the trip out to Australia to support England at the World Cup: “It’s a massive boost for the team,. To see her supporting us on the opposite side of the world, it’s not an easy flight.

“I think it kind of shows what she feels about this team. The first time I saw her she was actually standing outside my hotel room waving.

“She didn’t want to distract us on game day, so she kind of just stood outside and waved from there.

“To get the win and celebrate with her afterwards, I mean I imagine it’s not easy for her to watch those games because she would want to be playing in them, so I think for us we really appreciate her support.

“I think it shows what a good character and what type of person she is that she’s able to do that for us.”

Jamie Braidwood14 August 2023 16:31