SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - England's Lionesses made history as they beat Australia to reach their first ever Women’s World Cup final on Wednesday.
Ella Toone, Alessia Russo and Lauren Hemp were the Lionesses’ heroes as they secured a 3-1 victory and set up a meeting with Spain in Sunday’s final.
Captain Millie Bright said: “I think it’s a moment that we’ve wanted for so long, we had amazing success last summer, but we always knew there was something missing and it was the World Cup."
England and Australia were both bidding to create their own slice of history by reaching a first Women's World Cup final.
Tournament co-hosts Australia had never gone beyond the last eight of the women's football showpiece, while favourites England were playing their third World Cup semi-final in succession.
But after Sam Kerr had levelled in sensational fashion for Australia following Toone's fine opener, it was England who took control of the second-half to create history.
Victory meant that Sarina Wiegman became the first coach to lead two sides to a World Cup final after being at the helm of the Netherlands four years ago.
The Lionesses were still missing Lauren James, their top scorer at this World Cup, following her red card and two-game suspension against Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Australia welcomed back captain and all-time record scorer Sam Kerr, who plays for Chelsea, to their starting XI following injury.
After a frenetic opening where both sides failed to get a grip on the game and had chances apiece, England took the lead after baseline creativity from Russo and a stunning strike from Toone inside the box.
It was the first goal Australia had conceded in over three games, as England went into half-time 1-0 to the good.
England fans were also out in force to support the women's national side across the country — and celebrated in buoyant fashion when Toone struck the opening goal of the semi-final.
But in the 63rd minute, England lost the ball and Kerr produced a sensational strike which dipped over Mary Earps as Australia equalised in style.
With the second-half lighting up following Kerr's piledriver, it was England's turn to regain the lead.
Eight minutes later, Lauren Hemp latched on to the ball after confusion in the Matildas' box and slotted calmly home for a 2-1 lead.
As time ticked and the Matildas looking for a late leveller, Russo found space in the box and directed into an open net to spark joy with four minutes' remaining.
Victory was much deserved after their second-half dominance as they set up a final showdown with Spain on Sunday.
Wiegman told the BBC: “We achieved the final and it’s unbelievable, it feels like we’ve won it.
“But we won this game, it’s an incredible stadium, an away game, of course it was a hard game but again we found a way to win."
England defender Lucy Bronze was overwhelmed after finally reaching the World Cup final at the third time of asking. She had featured in England’s previous semi-final defeats in the last two editions.
She said: “This is the one thing I’ve always wanted, to be in the final of a World Cup and after two times of getting such disappointment, I honestly can’t believe it.”