England set up a Women’s World Cup semi-final with hosts Australia, coming from behind against a dangerous Colombia side.
The European champions, favorites to go all the way in Australia, didn’t put their best foot forward in the tournament, but this was a more well-rounded show in front of a hostile crowd in Sydney.
Largely recognized on defense and working hard on offense, the Lionesses were rewarded with two chips of luck that they took advantage of, after goaltender Marie Erbis was knocked out with a quick-thinking header in the first half.
Lauren Hemp set up the equaliser, just seven minutes after Lacey Santos won for Erbes, when she brought down Colombian goalkeeper Catalina Perez in a routine tackle in the six-yard box under pressure from Alicia Russo.
Arsenal striker Rosso, who had only scored once in four World Cup appearances ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final clash, worked tirelessly out of possession, winning her chance when she pounced on a gentle swerve to head into England’s second.
Earps was later recalled, resulting in Lorena Durango Bedoya hitting the crossbar, while England were further pressured by Colombia’s talented attacking line-up, which included Real Madrid’s teenage star Linda Caicedo.
The Lionesses, who had to contend with a crowd of 75,784 who were largely supportive of Colombia, will take on Australia on August 16 at 11:00 BST, live on the BBC.
This will be their third consecutive World Cup semi-final after defeats by the United States in 2019 and Japan in 2015.
‘England gets another win’
England had to fight their way through the competition, needing 1-0 wins to move past Haiti and Denmark in the group stage, before winning on penalties against Nigeria in the round of 16.
Both sides were without suspended top scorer Lauren James, who is serving a two-match ban after being shown a red card against Nigeria, but England did enough in front of goal to seal victory in a tight contest.
Colombia, who are 21 lower than England, have already proven their worth in Australia, beating Euro 2022 finalists Germany in the group stages and advancing in style.
Their attacking line-up caused England problems and they pushed in late hard to equalise, testing the Five Lionesses defence.
However, led by the full-back trio of Millie Bright, Alex Greenwood and Jess Carter, England maintained their physical strength and the tenacity of the Colombians.
Stadium Australia filled with yellow shirts in the stands – Colombia fans were on their feet waving scarves around their heads after any advance over the halfway line and whistled loudly when England were in possession.
It was by no means an easy victory, but the resilience and determination England have been forced to display so far in the tournament once again helped them cross the line, well-deservedly, on Saturday.
Russo shines as a resolute defenseman
Heading into the quarter-finals, England’s Irbes said, “There was more to come,” as he wasn’t showing his best aside from an impressive 6-1 victory over China.
So when the full-time whistle blew in Sydney, several players fell to the floor in exhaustion, and Sarina Wiegmann gave a rousing talk to the team afterwards – they were in for an uphill battle.
They were helped by strong individual performances. Rousseau barely missed a foot next to a missed header in the first half and her quest was rewarded when she gently rebounded the ball to score.
“I always try to do my best on the field,” said Russo. “There is often a bit of luck in football.
“I was happy that I took (the opportunity) when it came. I was in the right place and I was lucky to get into the net.”
Hemp ran into defenders with pace and aim and Lucy Bronze tackled Caicedo’s hard feet for most of the match.
England’s formidable defence, which was starting to look more comfortable with a three defense now starting three matches in a row in this formation, was well organized and took shots when they needed to.
Earps again made a crucial save to make up for her slight error in conceding England’s first goal of open play in the tournament.
Overall, it was a positive result match performance that ensured England were just two games away from glory.
They will have to deal with another hostile crowd in Sydney in the semi-finals but they have rarely felt overwhelmed in this show.