Women's World Cup

England secures first-ever spot in Women's World Cup final with 3-1 win over co-host Australia

England will face Spain in the final on Sunday

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England booked its first-ever spot in the Women's World Cup final on Wednesday.

The Lionesses took down co-host Australia 3-1 in the semifinals in front of a disappointed sellout crowd in Sydney. This was the third semifinal appearance for England, previously coming up short in 2015 and 2019.

England manager Sarina Wiegman made her own history, becoming the first coach to lead two countries to the Women's World Cup final. She also took the Netherlands in 2019.

“You make it to finals, it’s really special,” Wiegman said in a post-match television interview. “I’d never take anything for granted, but I'm like, ‘Am I here in the middle of a fairytale or something?’”

The Lionesses were dominant in the first half -- coming out extremely physical with excellent link-up play. Australia, on the other hand, was relying on counter-attacking soccer with its center backs sticking very tight to England's forwards.

In the 15th minute, England's strongest star, Alex Greenwood, picked up an early yellow card. Greenwood made the sacrificial move to prevent an opportunity from opening up for Australia star Sam Kerr.

England midfielder Ella Toone opened the scoring in the 36th minute of the contest. Forward Alessia Russo offloaded to Toone, who then fired the goal into the top-right corner of the net.

England controlled the half with possession 67% of the time with seven shots, two on target.

In the 63rd minute, Kerr gave the Aussies something to scream about. The 29-year-old striker sent a dynamite 25-yard rocket into the top left corner of the net to tie up the game 1-1.

But less than 10 minutes later, striker Lauren Hemp restored England's lead 2-1 as she drilled a shot low under Australian goalie Mackenzie Arnold. The tone of Stadium Australia converted from cheers of joy to sheer disappointment within minutes.

In the 86th minute, Russo sealed the deal, giving England another goal to extend the lead 3-1. The striker fired an angeled goal into the bottom-left corner off an assist from Hemp.

“We wanted to dominate the game, we didn’t do that. And we wanted to probably create more scoring opportunities and we didn’t do that,” Australia midfielder Katrina Gorry said, reflecting on her 100th game for her national team. “But you know, we’ve got a quick turnaround and we want to win the bronze medal.”

The Lionesses will face Spain, who defeated Sweden in the other semifinals 2-1, in the 2023 Women's World Cup championship match on Sunday at 6 a.m. ET/ 3 a.m. PT.

Australia will take on Sweden for third place on Saturday at 4 a.m. ET/ 1 a.m. PT.

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