England versus Australia has been one of the most anticipated games of the tournament. England and Australia already have a fierce sporting rivalry, especially given that England lost to Australia in a friendly match in April 2023. The eagerness to make history for both teams was clear during Wednesday’s game. The tension was also heightened as players were familiar with each other since many of them play their domestic sport in the Women’s Super League. Most notably, England defender, Millie Bright, and Australian forward, Sam Kerr, both play for Chelsea, and often play against each other in training.
It was clear from the beginning that Australia were comfortable with allowing England to play through their back line. Australia’s forwards hardly ever engaged with England’s defenders, meaning England were able to build up from the back in their own time. This was unlike Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo’s style of play, who always put pressure on Australia’s back line and even the goalkeeper, Mackenzie Arnold.
There was a nervous moment when Millie Bright sent the ball to Jess Carter who lost control of it and had Australian Caitlin Foord putting significant pressure on her. Carter sent the ball to goalkeeper, Mary Earps, with Foord still chasing it. Earps recovered the ball well.
Midfielder Katrina Gorry sent a long ball out to super-striker Sam Kerr. The crowd erupted as Kerr was one-on-one with Earps. She sent the ball low towards the goal, but it was saved by Earps and the offside flag went up.
England looked comfortable in possession and were eager for the first goal. England’s Alex Greenwood sent a long ball out to Georgia Stanway who ran for the first touch and attempted to get it past Arnold, but the Australian goalkeeper saved it and sent it out of play.
A promising corner from England allowed Russo and Ella Toone to head the ball towards the goal. Australia struggled to clear their lines as the Australian box became crowded with bodies. The ball was headed to Hemp by an Australian player and Hemp tried to score but it was blocked by the many Australian shirts in the box. Eventually it was fired out of play by Mary Fowler.
Australia suffered from a number of inaccurate passes; Bright lost the ball which Foord picked up and she tried to thread it through for Kerr, but it didn’t have the correct angle on it and England re-gained possession.
A throw-in from Rachel Daly saw Hemp keep the ball in play that landed for Russo. Eventually Toone picked the ball up and whipped it into the side netting of Australia’s goal. England led 1-0 at halftime.
England looked immediately confident at the beginning of the second half. But soon after, Australia gained momentum as Fowler delivered the ball to the back post for Foord, who headed it towards England’s goal, however Earps easily saved the attempt.
Around the 63rd minute, Russo was disposed by Gorry who sent the ball to Kerr. Bright marked Kerr towards England’s box but Kerr fired it into the goal, past Mary Earps. Since Kerr equalised, Australia looked confident. Kyra Cooney-Cross sent a long ball to Kerr, which she headed towards the goal but Earps was there to save the potential Australian goal.
A ball from Bright to Hemp was misjudged by Ellie Carpenter, which then finally fell to Hemp who sent a low ball into Australia’s goal. England led by 2-1.
By the 80th minute, Australia began to pick up the pace and dominated possession. An Australian corner was thumped out by Earps which fell to Kerr who sent it wide of the post. Sam Kerr and Australia were running out of time.
In the 86th minute, Hemp made a run down the centre of the pitch (completely unchallenged) and passed to Russo who sent the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal.
The scoreline finished, 3-1 to England. The Lionesses made up for their loss against Australia in April in perfect fashion and knocked out the co-hosts to reach the final.
England’s Lionesses, in their first ever World Cup final, will play Spain on Sunday 20 August for the World Cup title.