England has been revealed as the Matildas semi-final opponents, as they look to claim their maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup triumph.
Filled with a mixture of young and experienced players, both countries aimed to out-manoeuvre their opponents with their attacking style of play, in a match that saw countless opportunities for both sides. The English attack didn’t seem to miss a beat despite the absence of Lauren James (suspended for two games after receiving a red card against Nigeria), whilst Colombia relied upon Real Madrid youngster and hero of the group stage, Linda Caicedo.
With the crowd behind them, it would seem that Colombia would have an early advantage entering the game, but that would soon diminish as the experienced Carolina Arias was subbed out due to injury within the opening minutes.
The Atletico Junior centre-back would leave a large void at the back of the field where she has played 70 international caps. To make matters worse, Arias was visibly distraught leaving the field, as the gameplan of Colombia would now have to change due to the early arrival of Ana Guzman.
However, it wouldn’t take them long to regain the advantage.
Having grown into the tournament throughout the knockout stage of the World Cup, Leicy Santos would produce one of the goals of the tournament. The midfielder delivered a superb shot for Colombia against a world-class Mary Earps in goal.
What didn’t look like a planned shot, the deliberate chip by Santos was guided above the head of Earps, inches away from hitting the crossbar.
Many thought Colombia would enter the break with a 1-0 lead. However, England would fight back in the final seconds of added time, tying the game. Catalina Perez failed to secure the ball, allowing Lionesses’ Lauren Hemp to poke the ball into the goal.
The opportunities would keep coming after half-time, but neither side managed any clear-cut chances. Enter Alessia Russo.
Cementing her place in the record books, the 24-year-old’s low-driven shot in front of 75,784 fans wouldn’t just break the deadlock but, secured the England Lionesses a spot in the semi-final.
“It’s exciting. What more do you want?” Russo said post-match.
“You want to play against the best teams and, obviously, they’re the hosts. I think Colombia had a great fanbase out here tonight, so I think we’ve had a little taste, but I’m so excited.”
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England’s victory over Colombia will now reignite one of the world’s oldest sporting rivalries, as a date with host-nation Australia awaits.
The rivalry has been contested in the sporting arena in multiple sports, most famously in cricket and rugby union. Recently concluded, the two countries faced off against each other in a controversial Ashes series which saw Australia keep the urn after a 2-2 drawn series.
Flashback to 2003, and that was the last time in any sport that the two countries went head to head in a major sporting final. Then, it was England who enjoyed the win defeating, their rivals with the last kick of the game in the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup.
Ironically, the moment occurred in the same stadium where the game will be played on Wednesday night. The Lionesses will be eager to encapsulate the feats of English legend Jonny Wilkinson as they get set to tear Stadium Australia down against the Matildas.