England and Colombia played at Stadium Australia for a spot in the semi-finals. For the first ten minutes, Colombia dominated possession and moved the ball confidently into England’s half. An early opportunity appeared from Colombian player Mayra Ramirez, which almost led to a goal but it was safely saved by England’s goalkeeper, Mary Earps.
Colombia’s style of play constantly put pressure on England to get the ball out of possession which sometimes meant their formation was disorganised. However, they usually relied on their physicality to dispossess, or waited for inaccurate passes from England to take the momentum out of the game.
A ball to England’s Alessia Russo resulted in a header which almost made it into Colombia’s net, but it was blocked by Carolina Arias who seemed to suffer from a head injury. This later appeared to be a leg injury, which led Arias to be subbed off for 18 year old Ana Maria Guzman.
Colombia’s superstar and one of this tournament’s most impressive players, Linda Caicedo, often caused England problems down the left hand side. On one occasion, Caicedo sped down the left wing, cut away from defender Jess Carter, and shot towards England’s goal but the attempt went over the bar.
England also struggled to manage the right hand side, as Ramirez battled against three England players yet she was able to break free, but the opportunities struggled to produce any goals as Colombia lacked numbers in the box.
Defender Millie Bright often sent long balls to the left and right wing for either Russo or Lucy Bronze to pick up. But the long passes lacked accuracy and went out of play a number of times.
Just before half-time, a ball from Caicedo to Leicy Santos ended up just outside of the box and forced England’s Rachel Daly to mark. However, Santos was unphased by Daly and worked her way into England’s box, and shot in England’s goal. Earps tried to get a hand on it but she didn’t adjust her feet quick enough and so it went over her head.
Six minutes into added time, England picked up the pace and a long ball from Keira Walsh to Bronze fell to Russo which the Colombian goalkeeper, Catalina Perez, seemed to manage but lost control of the ball. Russo had another shot at the goal but Perez got an arm to it. The ball then fell to Lauren Hemp who smashed it into the goal. England equalised before half time.
England’s passes continued to lack precision as they have done in every game they’ve played in this World Cup. Some of the sloppy passes take the momentum out of the game, allowing the opposition to take control and England are forced to build up again once they regain possession.
Regardless, England continued to press and in the 62nd minute, a pass from Georgia Stanway to Russo allowed her to dodge past the defenders and send a low ball around the goalkeeper that went in Colombia’s goal. England led with a score of 2-1. Manager Sarina Wiegman had been criticised for starting Alessia Russo as the preferred striker, as she has struggled to score many goals in England’s previous World Cup games. However, this game confirmed Wiegman’s decision to keep Russo in the starting eleven and keep alternative striker Rachel Daly, as left back.
The ball was lost by Daly which was picked up by Ramirez. The ball eventually got to Lorena Durango, who fired it at England’s goal but Earps was ready for it and saved the attempt. Colombia continued to put pressure on England and had a number of opportunities, including from Santons, but on two occasions, Bright headed the attempts away.
England’s defence looked nervous as Colombia pressed more urgently in the remaining few minutes of the game, but after eight minutes of injury time, England won the game and will now pursue to play in the semi-finals.
England will face co-hosts Australia on 16 August for a place in the final. England previously faced Australia in a friendly match in April, which is the only game England have lost under manager Sarina Wiegman. England and Australia’s players are used to playing on the same team in the Women’s Super League, including Caitlin Foord and Lotte Wubben-Moy for Arsenal and Alanna Kennedy and Lauren Hemp for Manchester City. It’ll be interesting to see how they play against each other on Wednesday.