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2023 Women's World Cup

World Cup Quarterfinals, Day 2: Australia wins 10-round PK shootout over France, England ends Colombia’s historic run

James Whitehead / SPP

The second and final day of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinals started with co-hosts Australia beating France in a historically long and intensely dramatic penalty shootout. In the second match of the day, England beat Colombia to advance to the semifinals. Australia and England will now face off in the semis.

Couldn’t watch and need to know what the big story is? This is what happened on the second day of the World Cup quarterfinals.

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Australia 0, France 0 (7-6 PKs)

The Big Story: After 120 scoreless minutes, France brought in their number three goalkeeper, Solène Durand, from the bench to handle the imminent penalty kick shootout. Durand did have multiple saves to keep France’s hopes alive but eventually, co-host Australia was able to win it all in the 10th round of penalties (the longest in World Cup history), thanks to a Cortnee Vine goal. It is the first time that the Matildas will compete in the World Cup semifinals.

The Big Moment: After France was awarded a corner kick, on a ball that appeared on replay to fully go over the end line, the corresponding set piece found the back of the net for France off the head of Australian Alanna Kennedy. The goal was quickly waved off for a foul inside the box where it looked like Wendie Renard might’ve pulled down Caitlin Foord. The call kept the match scoreless in the first part of extra time.

What it means: Before the big matchup, Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson said that star striker Sam Kerr would only start the match against France if she was 90-minute fit. She started the evening on the bench, leading to the question, when will Kerr enter the match?

Heading into the match, although the only actual change in the French lineup from their Round of 16 game was outside back Ève Périsset getting replaced by center back Maëlle Lakrar, the OB for CB change caused a lot of rotation in order to fit the change in France’s backline. In the first half, there were clear moments of miscommunication between the defenders themselves and the goalkeeper. Additionally, the Australian press caused a substantial amount of turnovers in the French half with passes under pressure going wide and out of bounds, but the Matildas were not able to capitalize. The communication woes can be highlighted in what ended up being a goal-line clearance from Elisa De Almeida in the 41st minute, but could have just as easily been Australia’s Mary Fowler opening up the scoring on an empty net.

The French midfield purposefully worked to cut off the Matildas from playing through their double pivot in the middle of the pitch. So the Aussies went back to what we’ve seen from them all tournament, dangerous long balls trying to find Mary Fowler and company in behind the French backline. On the other side of the pitch, France’s Eugénie Le Sommer and Kadidiatou Diani were able to cause a number of turnovers in dangerous places that one way or another led to counterattacks but Les Bleus struggled to find the frame with only two shots on target out of their nine shots in the first half.

The Matildas came out of the locker room at the half on the front foot and when Sam Kerr entered the match in the 55th minute she immediately injected energy into an already rowdy Brisbane crowd and the Australian attack. Les Bleus gave Australia no shortage of chances to find a goal in the second half, but the match remained scoreless through regulation, and the match went to extra time.

Extra time had chances coming from both sides, with France having more dangerous chances. Regardless, both defenses held strong and extra time ended still scoreless. Australia’s Steph Catley likely saved the Matildas’ World Cup hopes in the 110th minute with this sliding save.

— Taylor Vincent

England 2, Colombia 1

The Big Story: Although Colombia got on the board first in its Saturday night quarterfinal match against England, the Lionesses came from behind to take the lead and eventually, prevail. England now advances to the semifinals, while the Colombian Cinderella story officially comes to an end. 

The Big Moment: A mostly scoreless first half ended 1-1, with a 44th-minute swooping goal from Colombian midfielder Leicy Santos, followed by a stoppage-time equalizer from England’s Lauren Hemp. But the match’s fate was decided in the 63rd minute with a speedy finish from English forward Alessia Russo, who found the back of the net before the Colombian keeper could react. Russo’s goal would ultimately be the deciding factor in the do-or-die match.

What it Means: Colombia had already made history by the time they stepped foot on the pitch on Saturday night for its quarterfinal match against England. The match was the first quarterfinal the Colombian women had ever qualified for in a World Cup, and their victories that led them to this moment – including a group stage defeat of world number 2 Germany – were hard-earned. England, the 2022 European champions and a natural favorite in an international tournament, entered Saturday night’s match with an air of uncertainty, as their star forward, Lauren James, remained in suspension for misconduct in a previous match against Nigeria. 

The match’s first half started out evenly, but England started to find its footing around 25 minutes in, and began to attack with danger and hunger. So, somewhat surprisingly, it was Colombia who got on the board first, with a soaring goal from Leicy Santos that just flew over the head of English keeper Mary Earps and into the back corner of the net. It looked like the 0-1 score would hold for the half, as Santos’s goal came in the 44th minute; in the seventh minute of stoppage time, however, the Colombian keeper Catalina Perez lost her grip of the ball and England’s Lauren Hemp capitalized on the mistake, bringing the score to 1-1 by the half.

Both sides were happy at the half – Colombia for getting on the board first and England for equalizing in the 11th hour. But as the second half took off, the Lionesses started to run circles around Las Cafeteras, and the game’s fate was ultimately cemented by Russo’s 63rd-minute goal. Colombia could see its historic World Cup run coming to an end, but undeniably went down fighting. In the match’s last 30 minutes, Colombia made it to the final third plenty of times and generated a handful of breakaways and corners, but nothing lethal enough to keep their chances alive. England now advances to the semifinals and will face Australia, who survived a record-breaking penalty shootout earlier on Saturday. Colombia’s tournament comes to an end, but Las Cafeteras have established themselves as major competitors on the global stage.   

— Julie Schreiber

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