Final Four: Australia reaches World Cup Women’s semi-finals in search of history for Matildas – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports | Fort Lauderdale

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — There will be a winner of the Women’s World Cup for the first time this year, and maybe, just maybe, the host country will be Australia.

The Matildas, who served as co-hosts of the tournament along with New Zealand, became the first home team since the United States in 1999 to win a quarterfinal win in nine Women’s World Cups. Australia have reached their first semi-final in team history and face England on Wednesday for a chance at the title.

“I honestly believe this team can make great history in so many ways,” said Australian coach Tony Gustavsson, “not just winning football games, but the way they can inspire the next generation, how they can unite the nation , how they can leave a legacy that is much bigger than football.”

England, the European champions, advanced with a 2-1 victory over upstart Colombia. England also reached the semi-finals in 2015 and 2019, but finished third and fourth and never reached the final of the Women’s World Cup.

But for the confrontation between Australia and England, the first semi-finalist Spain will face superpower Sweden on Tuesday in Auckland.

Aside from a 4-0 defeat to Japan in group play, Spain were a force throughout the tournament. It even knocked out an earthquake about an hour before winning in the quarterfinals against the Netherlands, runners-up in 2019.

The earthquake in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, measured 5.6 on the Richter scale on Friday and caused light tremors in and around the stadium.

“We were so focused on the game that we didn’t feel it, although we felt some vibrations in the hotel the day before,” said Spain coach Jorge Vilda. “Spain’s victory was the earthquake.”

Sweden, meanwhile, is the highest ranked team still in the tournament in second place in the world, according to FIFA. The Swedes reached the semi-finals by knocking out previously undefeated Japan, the 2011 winners and the tournament’s last remaining champions after so many early eliminations of the top teams in women’s football.

“I think we have the team to go all out,” said left-back Jonna Andersson, “and now we’re one step closer.”


The Matildas advanced on a thrilling – and electric – penalty shootout 7-6 over France in front of a sellout crowd in Brisbane, Australia.

It took 20 penalties to determine the winner in the longest shootout in the tournament’s history. It was the match of his life for goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, who took a penalty to make it 3-3, but hit the post.

Arnold then managed to save shots from French midfielder Kenza Dali twice, the first being brushed off after Arnold was deemed to have come off her line for the first save. Arnold said she was “incredibly disappointed” to have missed her shot on target and thanked her teammates for keeping the Matildas in the game.

Australia, ranked 12th in the world, is the lowest ranked team remaining in the tournament.

Sam Kerr, the injured superstar who missed all of group play, came off the bench against France but ended up playing almost a full game as the game went into extra time. Kerr converted her penalty kick. And the Australians have also been boosted by the play of 20-year-old Mary Fowler, who has stepped in to fill Kerr’s void in this tournament.

Arnold said the Matildas need a day to regroup before focusing on England.

“I never want to get ahead of myself, and we’re all the same in that regard,” she said. “We just watch one game at a time, half at a time, whatever that is, and we just move on to the next step each time. So now that we’ve made it to the semi-finals for the first time, we’re taking a moment to process what we actually did.”


England are keen to add a World Cup title to last year’s European Championship, and coach Sarina Wiegman understands the Lionesses will have their hands full with a semi-final that will be a home game for Australia.

Wiegman’s only defeat as England coach in 37 games came in a 2–0 defeat to Australia in a friendly four months ago. Now in the semi-finals for a third successive World Cup, England must beat the home side to progress to the first final.

“It’s going to be very big,” said Wiegman about the semi-final. “It will probably be bigger than I imagined. I will talk to my players and staff and see what that rivalry is. We had such a warm welcome and we really enjoyed our time here in Australia. I really like the people here, but that doesn’t mean there’s no rivalry. So we’ll see on Wednesday.”

England have already won in front of a hostile crowd – the 75,784 in attendance for the quarter-final win over Colombia were mostly dressed in Colombian colors – and Wiegman said: “We expect a similar crowd for Australia.

“We are very much looking forward to it. We know it’s an away game,” she said. “Let’s try to (use) it as inspiration.”

England star Lauren James will miss her second game in a row due to a suspension for receiving a red card in the quarter-finals.


Sweden’s current team has been labeled the “Golden Generation” of its country’s women’s football history, but the Swedes have yet to live up to that at international level.

Now it has knocked out both the United States and Japan to reach the semi-finals and a Tuesday match against Spain in Auckland. Sweden almost won an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo two years ago, but lost to Canada in the final and in the World Cup, the Swedes came second in 2003 and third three times.

A highlight of every win in Sweden has been playing Swedish band Abba’s songs in the stadiums after the wins, and striker Kosovo Asllani has a request for Tuesday: “I love ‘Lay Your Love on Me’,” she said .

“It’s so nice when you hear Abba’s songs after the game. You can’t help but smile,’ she said. “I am just very proud of the team performance, but we are not satisfied here. Of course I want to go all out.”


Spain were the first team to secure a spot in the semi-finals with a 2–1 victory over 2019 runners-up, the Netherlands in extra time of the quarter-finals.

Reaching the quarter-finals alone was a boost for Spain, who are ranked seventh in the world but had never reached the quarter-finals in their two previous World Cup appearances. But in their third tournament, La Roja was fantastic.

Spain blew through their first two group matches before suffering a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Japan in the final. Vilda made a series of lineup changes for the knockout round, leading to a 5–1 victory over Switzerland and then a quarter-final upset over the Dutch.

It set Spain on course for a rematch with the Japanese, but they were upset by Sweden in the second semi-final and La Roja now face the world’s third-ranked team at Eden Park in Auckland on Tuesday.

“We have reached a point we have never reached before, and we have also done well by playing a good game, with a team that is convinced that we can go even further,” said Vilda. “The rival we face in the semi-final will be one of the best teams in the world.”

Spain and Sweden have never met in the World Cup – Spain failed to even qualify for the first six tournaments – but drew 1-1 in a friendly in Spain’s Cordoba last October.

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