Focus on England’s World Cup semi-final opponents Australia after shootout win

By Sports Desk August 12, 2023

England set up a World Cup semi-final clash with Australia following a 2-1 last-eight comeback victory over Colombia.

Lauren Hemp cancelled out Leicy Santos’ strike just before half-time and Alessia Russo found the winner to send the Lionesses to the final four.

They face a tough task against the co-hosts, who reached the next stage thanks to a thrilling 7-6 penalty shootout win against France.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the side standing in England’s way of a spot in the World Cup final.

Coach

Tony Gustavsson is no stranger to success on the international stage, with the Swede having assisted Jill Ellis with the United States Women’s National Team and won two World Cups with them in 2015 and 2019.

With experience coaching in men’s and women’s football, Gustavsson was appointed as Matildas head coach in 2020 and led them to their first-ever World Cup semi-final appearance with the victory against France.

Key players

All-time Australia top scorer Sam Kerr has been the poster girl for this year’s tournament, but the Chelsea forward has had her game time limited due to injury.

In her place, others have stepped up with Arsenal stars Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord making their presence felt, while Real Madrid’s Hayley Raso leads the goal charts for Australia with three so far in the tournament.

Goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold also provided the heroics during the quarter-final triumph, making some good saves throughout the game and stepped up during the penalty shootout.

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Australia are currently ranked six places below England as the 10th best in the world, making them the lowest ranked side left in the competition.

Last time out at the 2019 World Cup, the Matildas reached the knockout stages, but crashed out to Norway with a 4-1 loss on penalties in the last 16.

This year’s tournament has been a mixed bag for the team after a shaky start saw them edge a 1-0 win against the Republic of Ireland before losing 3-2 to Nigeria.

They quickly recovered, however, putting four past Olympic champions Canada to seal qualification and then beat Denmark 2-0 to reach the last eight.

Style of play

Following that tricky start to the tournament, Australia have put in some clinical performances – sometimes without key player Kerr – to reach the final four.

Alongside some dominant victories like the 4-0 Canada win, they have also shown their determination to dig out results when needed and turned the game around following a poor half in their match against France.

England will face a tough test against the co-hosts, who have packed out stadiums throughout the tournament.

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