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Published 16 August 2023 5 min read
England Women's Senior Team

Australia 1-3 England - FIFA Women's World Cup match centre

Written by:

Oli Dickson Jefford

  • S. Kerr (63′)
FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 Semi-Final
Wednesday 16 August, 11:00 AM Accor Stadium
1 3
HT: 0 - 1
  • E. Toone (36′)
  • L. Hemp (71′)
  • A. Russo (86′)
  • A. Greenwood (10′)
  • C. Kelly (95′)

The Lionesses secure their place in the FIFA Women's World Cup Final after beating the host nation in Sydney

16 Aug 2023 5:23

Highlights: Australia 1-3 England

See the best of the action from Sydney as the Lionesses secure a spot in the World Cup Final

 Millie Bright was in a composed and confident mood during the pre-match press conference
Millie Bright was in a composed and confident mood during the pre-match press conference

Australia v England
FIFA Women's World Cup
11am BST, Wednesday 16 August 2023
Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia

Millie Bright stated England’s players were ‘super excited’ to play in front of what will be a partisan crowd at Stadium Australia and believes the Lionesses thrive in such moments.

On Wednesday morning, England will face Australia in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final in front of a largely home crowd of more than 75,000 people.

Whilst the prospect of her country reaching a first-ever Women’s World Cup final and facing such a passionate opposition crowd in Sydney might seem daunting to some, Bright was adamant

England relish the prospect, having been victorious in front of large crowds on several occasions over the last 13 months.

Bright said: “I think for us, it's about turning up, showing up, performing, and enjoying the game. I think it's important that we enjoy it, but ultimately, we're there to do a job. 

“We have our game plan and I'm sure they have theirs. So, I think it's important to adapt to the game as well. Whatever they give to us, we adapt to the situation. 

“I think that's something that we've done really well throughout the tournament. We've faced many different challenges, and we've adapted really well and shown different sides to us. 

“In terms of the crowd, I think we're just super excited to play in front of a really intense, full stadium for the women's game. That's what we want. 

“That's what we expect now at these big tournaments, especially in the semi-finals. For us, we thrive in those moments.”

 Mary Earps, Millie Bright and Sarina Wiegman at Stadium Australia on Tuesday
Mary Earps, Millie Bright and Sarina Wiegman at Stadium Australia on Tuesday

Later in the press conference, when asked about the pressure of the occasion, she added: "For us, I think there's pressure every day, every game. I think the pressure starts from the very first game, not just the semis, but for us, I think we live in that moment. 

“We know as an England team there's always pressure and it's something that you embrace and deal with. But for us, it's about staying focused, staying on task, and sticking to the game plan. 

“I think we've experienced moments like this: tense environments, big stadiums, big crowds. And like I said, we do thrive in those moments and it gives us energy.

“Ultimately it's about sticking to task and executing the game plan very well."

Bright was speaking in the pre-match press conference alongside head coach Sarina Wiegman, a head coach who reached the 2019 World Cup final and won the European Championship in 2017 and 2022.

England are currently ranked fourth in the world, with Australia tenth, and it was put to Wiegman by one of the journalists that the Matildas were underdogs heading into the match when asking the head coach what she expected from the match. 

Wiegman replied: “Well, first of all, I don't think they're underdogs. They play at home and the stadium will be really full. So I think it will be two teams that are very good, very strong, and have grown into the tournament. 

“So I think it's going to be very tight, and it's going to be very, very competitive. 

“We approach the game as any other game. We prepare how we want to play. We analyse our opponent really well, so hopefully, we can take out their strengths and exploit some weaknesses and take it from there."

Another journalist highlighted the perceived threats posed by Australia in detail and asked what Wiegman planned to do to nullify them.

“Well I'm not going to totally explain our plan for tomorrow, but you describe their strengths really well so thank you.,” Wiegman joked.

“But yes, we know their strengths and we have our plan and that's really the better that we do, the less they can use those qualities and what we hope is we have the ball a lot and we keep the ball really well. That prevents all those moments too."

England and Australia have a fierce sporting rivalry across multiple sports but both Wiegman and Bright downplayed it when it comes to women’s football, with a host of Australian players featuring in the Barclays Women’s Super League, including Bright’s Chelsea team-mate Sam Kerr. 

Wiegman had previously said she was not fully aware of the rivalry between England and Australia when asked at the weekend and stated she would go away and find out more.

When asked about it on Tuesday morning, she replied: “I asked the players and I asked the staff and actually there for us and for them, we don't feel that rivalry that much – there is a lot of rivalry in rugby and cricket and last week in netball. 

“We just know it's going to be a very competitive game. Lots of players from Australia also play in the Women's Super League, so they know each other really well and of course, they want to beat us, we want to beat them. So that's the main competitiveness we will face tomorrow."

 Lauren Hemp in action against Australia in April 2023
Lauren Hemp in action against Australia in April 2023

Key stats

- This will be the first-ever meeting between Australia and England at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. In their most recent encounter in April 2023, Australia won 2-0 in a friendly, which was England’s only defeat under Sarina Wiegman so far (P37 W29 D7). 

- England have reached the semi-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the third consecutive tournament, doing so in 2015 and 2019. The Lionesses however have lost on both previous occasions, losing 2-1 to both Japan and USA. 

- Australia have reached the FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final for the very first time, becoming just the third hosts to reach the final four of the competition after USA did so in both 1999 and 2003.

- England have faced the hosts of a FIFA Women’s World Cup only once before, beating Canada 2-1 in the quarter-finals in 2015, with current defender Lucy Bronze scoring the winner. 

- Australia have kept a clean sheet in four of their five matches at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup (also a 2-3 loss to Nigeria), with only Germany (6 in 2007), USA (5 in 2015) and Norway (5 in 1995) keeping more shutouts at a single edition. 

- England have scored ten goals at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, only netting more in a single edition of the tournament in 2019 (13). Of the four remaining teams at this year’s tournament, the Lionesses have the lowest xG total of 8.9. 

- Of the remaining four sides left in this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, Australia have averaged both the lowest possession figure (51.4%) and passing accuracy (72.5%), however only Spain have had more shots (132) and touches in the opposition’s box (267) than the Matildas (76 and 138). 

- Against France in the quarter-finals, Australia’s Mary Fowler completed seven of her nine dribbles, only Spain’s Mariona Caldentey against Netherlands (9) and Argentina’s Estefanía Banini against Italy (8) have completed more in a single game this tournament. Among players with 20+ dribbles attempted this tournament, only Spain’s Jenni Hermos (15/23 – 65.2%) has a higher success rate than Fowler (13/20 – 65%).

- England’s Georgia Stanway has created 10 chances from open play at the FIFA Women’s World Cup so far, no player has more. Of the three to do so however – Colombia’s Leicy Santos and Spain’s Jenni Hermoso – she is the only player yet to record an assist. 

- Both Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo scored their second goals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup against Colombia – with Lauren James already on three, England have never had two different players score 3-plus goals at a single edition of the tournament before. 

Australia in profile

Nickname: The Matildas
Coach: Tony Gustavsson
Captain: Sam Kerr
FIFA World Cup best performance: Semi-finals in 2023
Last encounter: England 0-2 Australia, 11 April 2023

Head to head

The Lionesses have met Australia on five previous occasions, with England enjoying three wins and one draw against the Matildas, who won the last meeting of the pair.

England 2-0 Australia, 11 April 2023

Goals from Sam Kerr and Charlotte Grant inflicted Sarina Wiegman's first defeat as England Women manager on a rainy night at Brentford Community Stadium.

England 1-1 Australia, 9 October 2018, Fulham FC

A Fran Kirby goal saw England settle for a draw at Craven Cottage in a friendly match. Kirby opened the scoring in the first half, but the Aussies hit back with a late equaliser from Claire Polkinghorne.

England 1-0 Australia27 October 2015, Yongchuan, China

The nations met in the final game of the Dewellbon Cup in China, when a goal from Izzy Christiansen settled the match in England's favour.

England 3-0 Australia, 6 March 2015, Nicosia, Cyprus

A hat-trick from Jodie Taylor helped the Lionesses enjoy a comfortable win in the 2015 edition of the Cyprus Cup, as Mark Sampson's side prepared for their 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup campaign. 

England 1-0 Australia, 4 September 2003, Burnley FC

Our first game came back in September 2003, when it ended in a 1-0 win for Hope Powell's Lionesses at Burnley's Turf Moor, with Rachel Yankey scoring the winner.

Sam Kerr missed the start of the World Cup through injury but has now returned
Sam Kerr missed the start of the World Cup through injury but has now returned

England Squad

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Ticket Information


How to watch or stream

England's 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup semi-final will be broadcast in the UK on BBC and iPlayer.

Sarina Wiegman has named the same starting line-up for the FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final with Colombia.

With Lauren James serving the second of her two-game ban after her red card against Nigeria, the Chelsea forward is the only player missing from the matchday squad.

England: 1 Mary Earps (Manchester United), 2 Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), 4 Keira Walsh (Barcelona), 5 Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), 6 Millie Bright (Chelsea) ©, 8 Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), 9 Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), 10 Ella Toone (Manchester United), 11 Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), 16 Jess Carter (Chelsea), 23 Alessia Russo (Arsenal)

Substitutes: 3 Niamh Charles (Chelsea), 12 Jordan Nobbs (Aston Villa), 13 Hannah Hampton (Chelsea), 14 Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal), 15 Esme Morgan (Manchester City), 17 Laura Coombs (Manchester City), 18 Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), 19 Bethany England (Tottenham Hotspur), 20 Katie Zelem (Manchester United), 21 Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City), 22 Katie Robinson (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Ella Toone celebrates the opening goal in the World Cup semi-final
Ella Toone celebrates the opening goal in the World Cup semi-final
Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo’s second-half strikes fired England into a first ever Women’s World Cup Final after an enthralling 3-1 triumph against hosts Australia in Sydney.

Despite some pressure from Australia, England were the better team in the first half, and deserved a 1-0 lead at half time thanks to Ella Toone’s powerful effort in the 36th minute.

Returning home hero Sam Kerr sent Stadium Australia into raptures with a stunning equaliser just after the hour mark, but Hemp’s 71st-minute finish saw Sarina Wiegman’s side back in front.

And, after some late Australian pressure, Russo sealed victory with less than five minutes of normal time to play, booking a date against Spain in Sunday’s Final.
The game came to life seven minutes in when Kerr, starting for the first time this tournament, ran onto a through ball and forced a good stop from Mary Earps - though the offside flag belatedly went up.

But that was enough to force the Lionesses to up their tempo, with Georgia Stanway forcing a good stop from Matilda’s ‘keeper Mackenzie Arnold following a stunning ball forward from Alex Greenwood.

Russo and Toone also looked bright for England early on, with the former seeing a speculative effort nestle into the side netting in the 17th minute.

However the hosts settled into the contest as the half went on, and during a dangerous spell of play Hayley Raso went closest, her effort from a corner deflected behind for a second corner, which nothing came from.
Hemp was one of England's stand-out players in the victory over Australia
Hemp was one of England's stand-out players in the victory over Australia
But they were behind shortly afterwards when Toone broke the deadlock with a fantastic angled finish from 12 yards out, giving Arnold no chance as she smacked the ball into the top corner.

Australia started their quest for an equaliser with a strong start to the second half possession wise but were unable to create clear chances, Caitlin Foord’s header easily dealt with by Earps.

Hemp came close with just before the hour mark a long-range half volley that forced a strong stop from Arnold, with Millie Bright bundling just wide from the resulting corner.

But just minutes later the hosts were level through Kerr, running with the ball from the halfway line before unleashing an astonishing effort from 25 yards out that Earps had little chance of keeping out.

The Chelsea striker was close to putting the Matildas in front just moments later, but a last-ditch tackle by club teammate Jess Carter was enough to force a corner.
Lauren Hemp slots home England's second goal to put one foot in the World Cup Final
Lauren Hemp slots home England's second goal to put one foot in the World Cup Final
But the Lionesses regrouped and came close to retaking the lead through Lucy Bronze’s chip, which swept across the goalline, and a header from Russo which crept just wide.

And Hemp restored England’s lead with just under 20 minutes to play, fed the ball by Bright before her low strike evaded Arnold and nestled into the bottom corner.

Kerr spurned two late chances for the Matilda’s, first heading over before later flashing wide from a corner, while Carter swept the ball away after Earps parried an effort from Courtnee Vine.

Though any late nerves were put to bed by Arsenal star Russo, who calmly received the ball from Hemp's reversed pass and netted from 12 yards out for England’s third.

And that was enough to power the Lionesses into the final, a first ever Women’s World Cup semi-final win after defeats at this stage in 2015 and 2019.

European rivals Spain await in Sunday’s final, with both teams aiming to seal a first Women’s World Cup triumph.
England: 1. Mary Earps; 16. Jess Carter, 6. Millie Bright, 5. Alex Greenwood; 2. Lucy Bronze, 8. Georgia Stanway, 4. Keira Walsh, 9. Rachel Daly; 10. Ella Toone, 23. Alessia Russo, 11. Lauren Hemp

Substitutes: 18. Chloe Kelly for Russo 87’, 3. Niamh Charles for Toone 90’

Substitutes not used: 12. Jordan Nobbs, 13. Hannah Hampton, 14. Lotte Wubben-Moy, 15. Esme Morgan, 17. Laura Coombs, 19. Bethany England, 20. Katie Zelem, 21. Ellie Roebuck, 22. Katie Robinson

Cautions: Greenwood 10’, Kelly 90+5’

Goals: Toone 36’, Hemp 71’, Russo 86’

Australia: 18. Mackenzie Arnold; 21. Ellie Carpenter, 15. Clare Hunt, 4. Clare Polkinghorne, 7. Steph Catley; 16. Hayley Raso, 19. Katrina Gorry, 23. Kyra Cooney-Cross, 9. Caitlin Foord; 20. Sam Kerr, 11. Mary Fowler

Substitutes: 5. Courtnee Vine for Raso 72’, 10. Emily van Egmond for Polkinghorne 81’, 8. Alex Chidiac for Gorry 88’

Substitutes not used: 1. Lydia Williams, 2. Courtney Nevin, 3. Aivi Luik, 6. Clare Wheeler, 12. Teagan Micah, 13. Tameka Yallop, 17. Kyah Simon, 22. Charlotte Grant

Goals: Kerr 63’