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Monday, February 26, 2024

England, Bruised however Unbowed, Reaches World Cup Semifinals

England entered the World Cup knockout levels nonetheless ready to appear to be the dominant staff it had hoped it might be. Positive, England had but to lose a sport — an accomplishment throughout this chaotic event — however to this point its performances had appeared just a few rungs in need of the extent required to perform its objectives: to achieve its first last, to elevate the World Cup trophy for the primary time.

England had arrived in Australia final month with out three of the nation’s greatest 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 greatest 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 night time, in entrance of a Sydney crowd that introduced one more hurdle by favoring the upstart Colombians because the host nation’s most well-liked subsequent opponent, England discovered a means ahead once more.

Overcoming an early purpose with certainly one of their very own simply earlier than halftime, the Lionesses delivered the sort of efficiency that they had 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 towards France up the coast in Brisbane.

“It’s thrilling,” ahead Alessia Russo stated. “You need to play towards the perfect groups.”

Russo scored the winner within the 63rd minute, a right-footed end off an help from midfielder Georgia Stanway throughout a momentary lapse by Colombia’s protection that despatched her in alone.

The stands have been late to refill initially of the match, as most of the spectators seemed to be lingering outdoors, a part of a raucous crowd in Cathy Freeman Park watching Australia advance on an out of doors viewing display screen. However once they did, it was clear the gang closely favored the Colombians, towards all odds the final staff from the Americas nonetheless standing.

Their supporters erupted when Colombia midfielder Leicy Santos opened the scoring from the appropriate 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 purpose all event. England’s Lauren Hemp evened the rating seconds earlier than halftime, pouncing on a free rebound after Colombia’s goalkeeper fumbled the ball solely steps from her purpose line.

England, the reigning European champion and a World Cup semifinalist 4 years in the past in France, entered this event as a prime contender. However aside from a 6-1 win towards China within the group stage, England had struggled on offense, relying as a substitute on Earps and a veteran protection. England scored single objectives in its different two wins within the group stage, towards Haiti and Denmark, and none in any respect in its round-of-16 win over Nigeria, which was settled in a penalty-kick shootout after 120 scoreless minutes.

Two objectives towards Colombia is not going to reply all of these questions for England, however the Lionesses turned in a far stronger exhibiting than that they had within the earlier spherical.

“I feel we’ve needed to dig deep from the primary sport,” Russo stated. “We are able to at all times enhance, however we’re within the semifinals.”

England will face an excellent 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 in some way felt prescient.

“I actually imagine the perfect is but to return,” Earps had stated. “There may be a lot expertise within the group, and so many extra ranges that we are able to go.”

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