reached Australia Women’s World Cup A first-ever semi-final saw a sold-out crowd in Brisbane ecstatic with a dramatic penalty shootout win over France.
The co-hosts have played in the quarter-finals three times, but never made it past the last eight. At home, the Matildas’ fortunes changed and history was made in a thrilling finish to the match.
Courtney Wynne, who took the 20th penalty of the shootout, won 7-6 on penalties to secure a tie against either England or Colombia.
France had a goal in extra time.
Both teams missed out on a place in the shootout – but France’s four mistakes proved costly, giving Wynne the chance to end a tense shootout and spark wild celebrations among the Australian players in front of nearly 50,000 equally jubilant fans.
As the Matildas paraded around the pitch, fans danced, waved flags and cheered on the team that had captured the imagination of a sports-loving nation.
Australian head coach Tony Gustavsson told reporters he was very proud of his team and thanked the supporters. “You are a part of this victory,” he told the crowd. “You belong on this team tonight, every person in this country.”
The French players are sad on the pitch.
It was a brutal way to beat France, especially The Blues There were plenty of chances to score during a match in which momentum shifted from one team to the other throughout.
In the end, Vicky Pecho’s miss – which struck the post to give the 19-year-old Vine the chance to send his country into a frenzy – proved to be the most costly of all.
But Mackenzie Arnold’s role should not be forgotten either. Missing a chance to seal Australia’s progress during the shootout, Australian goalkeeper Kenza Daly turned to save a spot-kick. Having to take an early penalty again, Arnold held his nerve to save Daly’s second effort as the goalkeeper was deemed to have stepped out of his goalline too early.
France head coach Herve Renard told reporters that “fate chose the winner”. “Tonight, we have to be proud of these girls who played an exceptional match,” she said. “It went right to left, left to right – it’s hard to say who deserved it.
“Congratulations to Australia, and congratulations to all the staff for a job well done.”
For a match with so much on the line, it was a surprisingly open encounter.
France started brightly and were particularly dangerous during set pieces. Maelle Lakr went close twice – incredibly firing over the crossbar from four yards on one occasion – while France’s record goalscorer Eugenie Le Somer saved from Arnold with France’s only shot in the first half.
As the half progressed, Australia gained confidence and the decibels rose inside Partisan Stadium.
Five minutes from half-time, the home side had their best chance of the game when Pauline Beyrat-Magnin got off his line with a defensive chase. The ball falls to 20-year-old Mary Fowler, her eyes wide open in the face of an open goal.
But as she shot at goal, France’s Elisa de Almeida raced over the goalline to block Fowler’s goal-bound attempt. Incredible defense kept his team from trailing.
France’s defense was made to work hard after the break, especially when the introduction of superstar striker Sam Kerr in the 55th minute gave the home side a further boost in attack.
France’s goalkeeper Pauline Peyrat-Magnin, center, punches the ball out during the quarterfinal match.
Kerr did not feature in any of the group stage games due to a calf injury and made a brief appearance as a substitute in the last-16 win over Denmark, but his impact in Brisbane was immediate despite his lack of game time in this tournament. .
Kerr’s drive into the box created space for Hayley Raso, whose shot from the edge of the box was saved by a diving save from Beiraud-Magnin.
Later, Kerr told reporters: “I’m so happy, I can’t put it into words. It’s been a whirlwind, but so proud of the girls, it’s been a team effort from staff to players and fans. I couldn’t believe it.
“We have a lot of hope. We are riding a wave of excitement and playing some of our best football. The girls are smashing it, it’s a team effort.
“This is changing football forever in this country. The country is dying. We love it…”
For all the efforts of Australia and France, the defense held firm and the match went into extra time. In the 99th minute, Wendy Renard headed the ball into the net, but the goal was disallowed immediately after Australia’s Alana Kennedy fell into the box trying to save a corner.
Substitute Wynne went close for Australia moments later, the Matildas player stretching every sinew to steer the ball inches wide only to her outstretched leg, but her moment would come later.
With penalties looming, Renard changed his goalkeepers, bringing on Soleine Durant for Beyraud-Magnin, but the strategy backfired as the most exciting game of the tournament went Australia’s way.