Highlights from Australia vs England, Women's World Cup 2023 semifinals (2023)

11:26 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

The World Cup final is set. How did Spain and England make it to the showpiece event?

From CNN's Patrick Sung, Aimee Lewis and Matias Grez

The Women's World Cup semifinals have concluded and the two teams fighting for the title have been revealed: Spain and England will meet in a clash of two European heavyweights, both of whom have never previously made the tournament's greatest showpiece event.

Highlights from Australia vs England, Women's World Cup 2023 semifinals (1)

La Roja has been one of the tournament's most exciting sides, with its high-possession, high-scoring style. A huge wake-up call was delivered in the side's 4-0 loss to Japan in the final group stage game, but the Iberian nation has been unstoppable since, defeating Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden along the way to the final.

In its semifinal against the Blågult, Spain shocked a team which vanquished the all-powerful US women's squad.

Teenager Salma Paralluelo seemed to have won it for Spain with an 81st-minute strike which broke the deadlock, only for Sweden to level with a brilliant goal from Rebecka Blomqvist in the 88th minute.

But with extra-time looming, Spain’s response was ruthless and immediate. Saving the best goal until last, Olga Carmona found the back of the net with a sublime effort from the edge of the box just 94 seconds after Sweden had made it 1-1.

Competing at just its third World Cup, Spain is now within a game of winning the sport’s biggest prize having never before progressed beyond the round of 16.

Find out more how Spain beat Sweden to make the final here.

Highlights from Australia vs England, Women's World Cup 2023 semifinals (2)

The Lionesses have had up-and-down performances this tournament, opening with two relatively unimpressive 1-0 wins against Haiti and Denmark in the group stage before before thrashing China 6-1.

England then struggled mightily against Nigeria – which arguably deserved to win the match over 120 minutes – winning on penalties but losing star Lauren James to a red card and subsequent two-match ban for a stamp on the Super Falcons' Michelle Alozie. A 2-1 comeback victory in the quarterfinals against Colombia led England to the huge match against the co-host in Sydney.

Ella Toone’s first-half goal gave England a deserved lead, before Australia superstar Sam Kerr produced a long-range stunner to draw the sides level in the second half.

But Ellie Carpenter’s error in defense allowed Lauren Hemp to restore England’s lead, before Alessia Russo ended Australia’s hopes with a goal on the counterattack as the Matildas went in search of an equalizer.

Find out more how England made history in a 3-1 win over Australia here.

11:22 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

England star savors "best shot I've ever hit" in win against Australia

From CNN's George Ramsay

Highlights from Australia vs England, Women's World Cup 2023 semifinals (3)

England star Ella Toone thinks her first-half goal against Australia was "the best shot I've ever hit in my life."

The attacking midfielder drilled the ball into the top corner to give the Lionesses a 1-0 lead in the semifinal – a crucial time to score your first goal of the tournament.

"I enjoyed that one to be fair – probably the best shot I’ve ever hit in my life," said Toone, according to FIFA.

"I’m just glad it went in the back of the net. Any way I can help the team succeed and get the win is what I’ll do. The ball fell to me in a great position and I just struck it and it hit nicely."

Despite taking an early lead, England had to dig deep to defeat Australia after Sam Kerr tied the game with a rocket-like strike of her own in the second half.

Further goals from Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo, however, wrapped up the victory for the European champion.

"We had everything today – grit, determination, character and belief.

"I think that’s the main thing: we always have belief, we always believe in ourselves, we always believe in the team. It was just an exciting game and we stuck to the game plan really well."

10:54 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

Fans face lengthy delays getting home as they queue for trains

From CNN's Hilary Whiteman in Sydney

A long evening for fans just keeps getting longer.

After watching England's 3-1 victory against Australia, many are faced with long queues at train stations as they make their way home from Sydney's Stadium Australia.

Cheers have been erupting as each train pulls into the platform. Some people are standing wall to wall, some are sitting on steps, and others are sleeping.

There is only one train station near the stadium. Some opted to walk 20 minutes to another nearby station, only to be told that there were no trains.

One mother, aged 72, and her son are trying to get from Sydney to Newcastle and think they may get home by 4 a.m. local time.

Hardly ideal when the game wrapped up around 10 p.m. Australia time.

Highlights from Australia vs England, Women's World Cup 2023 semifinals (4)
10:15 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

Australia coach Tony Gustavsson says he's "proud" but also "sad" at Matildas' 3-1 loss

From CNN's George Ramsay

Highlights from Australia vs England, Women's World Cup 2023 semifinals (5)

Australia's head coach Tony Gustavsson was left to rue his team's missed chances during the 3-1 defeat against England, while also acknowledging his players' efforts.

"I feel for so many tonight when you look at this," said Gustavsson, according to FIFA.

"The players left it all out there. I think that’s why the fans are thanking them ... England was clinical tonight. We had a chance for 2-2. A couple of minutes later they scored [for] 3-1. It’s one of those games, unfortunately.”

Despite the defeat, Gustavsson has overseen Australia's best-ever run at a World Cup – men's or women's. The team will next contest a third-place playoff match against Sweden on Saturday.

Asked about the support from the home crowd in Sydney, he said: “I am proud, but I’m also sad that we could have made them even prouder tonight with a win.”

9:06 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

"It felt pretty good at the time," Sam Kerr reflects on her stunning goal

From CNN's Ben Church and Hilary Whiteman in Sydney

Highlights from Australia vs England, Women's World Cup 2023 semifinals (6)

Despite counting for nothing in the end, Sam Kerr's stunning equalizer for Australia will live long in the memory.

The thunderous strike seemed like the result of all the frustration she has felt at this year's World Cup – which, in truth, hasn't really gone to plan.

As an isolated moment, though, Kerr will do well to ever produce anything as special.

When asked whether it was the best goal of her career, a dejected Kerr told reporters: "I don’t know, that’s for you guys to judge, not me.

"It felt pretty good at the time but not now."

Kerr was locked in a brilliant battle with defender Millie Bright throughout the semifinal and the England star paid tribute to the Matildas striker's brilliance.

"I have a huge amount of respect for Sam and I've wanted her shirt for a long time," Bright told reporters, wearing Kerr's match-worn jersey.

"She's not an easy player to keep quiet. You see she gets one chance and it's in the back of the net."
9:35 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

Prince William praises England's "phenomenal performance"

From CNN's George Ramsay and Lauren Said-Moorhouse

England's 3-1 victory against Australia comes with a royal seal of approval.

Prince William, who is president of England's Football Association, has joined a nation in celebrating the country's first appearance in a Women's World Cup final.

"What a phenomenal performance from the @Lionesses – on to the final!" William said in a post from Kensington Palace on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"Commiserations to @TheMatildas, you've played brilliantly and been fantastic co-hosts of this World Cup."

8:39 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

Sam Kerr thanks "amazing" fans as Australia's dream of Women's World Cup glory ends

From CNN's George Ramsay in London and Hilary Whiteman in Sydney

Highlights from Australia vs England, Women's World Cup 2023 semifinals (7)

Sam Kerr's unbelievable goal in the second-half will be remembered as one of the finest moments of this tournament.

Straight after Kerr's long-range equalizer, the crowd came to life in Sydney as Australian fans started to believe that a place in the final was within their team's grasp.

"We can’t thank the fans enough, they've been amazing," the striker said after the eventual 3-1 defeat.

"We felt the love all over the country. Just to see the support we’ve had has really pushed us on. Hopefully, this stays around because this has been amazing for us."

More than 75,000 fans packed into Stadium Australia for the semifinal – a sure sign that the Matildas have captured the hearts of a nation over the course of this tournament.

8:34 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

England head coach Sarina Wiegman reacts to reaching another "fairytale" final

From CNN's Ben Church

Highlights from Australia vs England, Women's World Cup 2023 semifinals (8)

England's Sarina Wiegman knows a thing or two about success at major tournaments.

Following Wednesday's semifinal win, she became the first coach, male or female, to reach a World Cup final with two different nations – having already done so with the Netherlands in 2019.

She lost against the US four years ago, but will be hoping to go one better with her impressive Lionesses.

"I never take anything for granted but I’m like, 'Am I in the middle of a fairytale or something?,'” she told the BBC after the game.

Wiegman has now reached the final of four major tournaments – having also won the European Championships with both England and the Netherlands.

She credits her success to hard work and praised her England team for being so determined.

"I think with this team, there’s ruthlessness," she said.
"Whether it’s up front or in defense, we really want to keep the ball out of the net, we really want to win. And we stick together and we stick to the plan. And it worked again."

Sarina Wiegman spoke to CNN about the secrets of her success ahead of the World Cup. Read more about her incredible career here.

8:25 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

England "determined" and "resilient" on the way to dream Women's World Cup final

From CNN's Ben Church and George Ramsay

Sunday's game against Spain will be England's first Women's World Cup final and the country's first World Cup final – men's or women's – since winning the men's title in 1966.

Victory in this tournament would also mark the team's second major trophy in 13 months, having won the women's European Championships on home soil last year.

"We played how we wanted to, we were determined, resilient," England defender Lucy Bronze told the BBC after the 3-1 semifinal victory against Australia. "We knew the crowd would be crazy and we talked about silencing them and, at the end, we did that.

"We all dreamed of being in the final. All our family and friends have booked to stay here until then because they all believed in us. It's been amazing to play against Australia, in Australia. What a fantastic tournament they had, but we're in the final."

Can the Lionesses now go the whole way with a win against La Roja?

"Yeah, why not?" goalscorer Alessia Russo also told the BBC.

"Obviously, Spain's going to be even tougher. I think every single game that we've [played] this tournament has been of the highest level, so we have to be ready.

"But we've been dreaming since we were little girls. We're excited, we'll get recovered and be ready."

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