England beats host Australia to reach Women's World Cup final
England went closer to their first Women's World Cup title as they moved into the final for the first time after beating host Australia 3-1 in the semifinal here on Wednesday.
The home side eliminated France via a thrilling penalty shoot-out in last 8, booking their first semifinal appearance at the Women's World Cup, after they bowed out at the quarterfinal stage in three of their previous campaigns.
England had reached the semifinal for the third consecutive edition but never made into the final before. The Lionesses overcame Colombia during the last match and were seeking the spot in a second successive major tournament final, after lifting the EURO crown in 2022.
England had lost to Australia 2-0 in a friendly match back in April, their only defeat since Sarina Wiegman took the coaching spot. With Lauren James still suspended, England continued the 3-4-1-2 formation while Australia's trump card Sam Kerr marked her first start in this tournament.
England was more aggressive in the opening stage, while Kerr was under constant watch and the only highlight of the Chelsea star in the first half was a solo run smothered by Mary Earps, but it was ruled offside.
Georgia Stanway tested Australia's goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold in the 9th minute, before Alessia Russo hit the side netting.
The Lionesses unlocked their defence in the 36th minute through delicate teamwork when Russo gathered the ball from the by-line and pulled back for Ella Toone to smash in a first-time rocket.
The second half started in Australia's favor, but it was England who created the real chances as Lauren Hemp's strike out of the box was punched away while Millie Bright's header in the resulting corner was wide of the post.
Australia got back on level terms through a counterattack in the 63rd minute as Kerr played heroics by charging forward before unleashing a blockbuster that went beyond an out-stretched Earps.
The Matildas rode the momentum by stringing together a run of play, but England restored the lead in the 71st minute when Ellie Carpenter's poor clearance allowed Hemp to steal the ball and slotted it home.
Kerr squandered a golden opportunity in the 83rd minute as her header went over the bar, moments before Cortnee Vine forced a one-handed save out of Earps.
England punished the co-hosts in the 86th minute through a combination between the two strikers as Hemp's through ball sent Russo clear to beat Arnold one-on-one.
In a desperate bid for a miracle, Australia tossed caution to the wind in the final stages but was still toothless to turn the game around.
England will take on Spain, who eliminated Sweden 2-1 on Tuesday, in the tournament's final on Sunday.