England entered the World Cup knockout levels nonetheless ready to appear like the dominant crew it had hoped it might be. Positive, England had but to lose a sport — an accomplishment throughout this chaotic match — however thus far its performances had appeared a number of rungs in need of the extent required to perform its targets: to succeed in its first ultimate, to raise the World Cup trophy for the primary time.
England had arrived in Australia final month with out three of the nation’s finest gamers, all dominated out due to severe knee accidents. One other star was damage within the group stage and missed a sport and a half. Then the Lionesses misplaced their finest participant at this World Cup, the younger midfielder Lauren James, to a suspension after she was despatched off for stamping on a Nigerian participant within the spherical of 16.
However on Saturday evening, in entrance of a Sydney crowd that introduced yet one more hurdle by favoring the upstart Colombians because the host nation’s most well-liked subsequent opponent, England discovered a method ahead once more.
Overcoming an early aim with one in all their very own simply earlier than halftime, the Lionesses delivered the form of efficiency they’d been saying was simply across the nook, beating Colombia, 2-1, to advance to the semifinals for the second straight World Cup.
There, England will face Australia, which hours earlier had claimed its place by successful an prolonged penalty shootout in opposition to France up the coast in Brisbane.
Ahead Alessia Russo scored the winner within the 63rd minute, a right-footed end off an help from midfielder Georgia Stanway and a momentary lapse by Colombia’s protection that despatched her in alone.
The stands have been late to replenish at first of the match, as most of the spectators gave the impression to be lingering exterior, a part of a raucous crowd filling Cathy Freeman Park to look at Australia advance on an outside viewing display. However after they did, it was clear the group closely favored the Colombians, in opposition to all odds the final crew from the Americas nonetheless standing.
Their supporters erupted when Colombia midfielder Leicy Santos opened the scoring from the suitable facet of the penalty space within the forty fourth minute, the ball arcing simply over the outstretched proper glove of England goalkeeper Mary Earps, who had surrendered just one different aim all match. England’s Lauren Hemp evened the rating seconds earlier than halftime, pouncing on a free rebound after Colombia’s goalie fumbled the ball solely steps from her aim line.
England, the reigning European champion and a World Cup semifinalist 4 years in the past in France, entered this match as a prime contender. However aside from a 6-1 win in opposition to China within the group stage, England had struggled on offense, counting on Earps and a veteran protection to make up for an offense that was abruptly struggling for targets. England scored single targets in its different two wins within the group stage, in opposition to Haiti and Denmark, and none in any respect in its spherical of 16 win over Nigeria, which was settled in a penalty kick shootout after 120 scoreless minutes.
Two targets in opposition to Colombia is not going to reply all of these questions for England, however the Lionesses turned in a far stronger displaying than they’d within the earlier spherical.
England will face a good taller job within the subsequent spherical, and it’ll once more be with out James, whose two-game ban means she’s going to miss the semifinal, too. However after England handed its hardest check but, the message Earps had delivered on the eve of the sport someway felt prescient.
“I really believe the best is yet to come,” Earps had mentioned. “There is so much talent in the group, and so many more levels that we can go.”