Bring on the Matildas!: England’s Lionesses eager to renew great sporting rivalry with Australia in World Cup semi-final after seeing off Colombia
- Lionesses cannot wait to take on old foe Australia in World Cup semi-final
- England overcame Colombia 2-1 in Sydney in tense quarter-final clash
- Goals from Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo kept England on track for glory
England‘s players said on Saturday night that they couldn’t wait to renew one of sports greatest rivalries after beating Colombia to set up a World Cup semi-final with Australia.
Goals from Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo saw the Lionesses come from behind to seal a 2-1 victory and set up a showdown with the Matildas, who had beaten France in the longest penalty shoot-out in women’s World Cup history earlier on Saturday.
England faced a hostile crowd at Stadium Australia, with the majority of supporters cheering for Colombia. But Sarina Wiegman’s players insisted they relished the partisan atmosphere and will do so again when they face the Aussies.
‘We are all feeling really confident, Australia, bring it on!’ Hemp said. ‘I’m absolutely over the moon, I can’t wait.
‘It’s going to be a packed out stadium with so many Australian fans but we know if we play at our best, we are unstoppable,’ Hemp said.
Lauren Hemp drew England level in Sydney after they had fallen behind in their World Cup quarter-final against Colombia
And Alessia Russo bagged a second-half winner to set up a semi-final against old foes Australia
The England players said they could not wait to take on the co-hosts on Wednesday
‘As a group we thrived off the amount of Colombian fans. It just makes it so much more exciting so for me I can’t wait to get going.’
Match-winner Russo said England’s experience of the Colombian crowd will serve as crucial preparation for next week’s semi-final.
‘We had a taste of it [the hostile atmosphere] because their fans were incredible,’ Russo said.
‘It’s another test but one that’s exciting – not only to face the hosts but also to be in the World Cup semi-finals and to keep the dream alive.’
England are the only team to have gone behind in a quarter-final and won at this tournament and Russo said their resilience has been a big factor in their progression.
‘I think we’ve been put up against a lot this tournament and we always find a way through. One of the strongest things about this team is that we never give up.
Sarina Wiegman gathered the players in a huddle after the final whistle
‘We weren’t stressed [about going behind]. it was something we took in our stride, but we knew there were areas we wanted to exploit and we did that more in the second half. I don’t think we were over-panicked, these things happen in football and you’re not always going to be ahead in games. We are just buzzing to be in the semi-finals.’
Russo had been under pressure going into Saturday’s game having managed just one goal in four games. But the forward delivered a superb finish after profiting from a defensive lapse by Colombian centre back Daniela Arias.
‘You’re in those moments a lot as a striker. It’s kind of what you train for. It was a split second to take a shot and I went across the goalkeeper.
‘I tried to work as hard as I can on the pitch. There is often sometimes a bit of luck in football. I was glad I took it when it came. I was in the right position and it was fortunate it went in the back of the net.’