For the first time in 57 years, an English football team made it to the World Cup final. Coach Sarina Wiegman said she felt like she was living in a “fairytale” after her team beat event co-hosts Australia 3-1 in Sydney to get there.
Wiegman led the Netherlands to the 2019 Women’s World Cup final, where they lost to the United States. With Wednesday’s semifinal win, she became the first coach to lead two different teams to a Women’s World Cup final.
It also put England, who won the European Championship last year and will play Spain in the final for the first time on Sunday in Sydney, on track for an impressive double.
England hasn’t been to a World Cup final since 1966, when the men’s team beat Eusébio’s Portugal in the semifinals. That time, Bobby Moore’s team won their only World Cup by beating West Germany 4–2 at Wembley.
“We made it to the end!” Wiegman said so to the BBC. “It’s crazy, it feels like we won the tournament, but we didn’t. We just won this game in an amazing stadium, on the road, with the way we played. It was a tough game, but we found a way to win again.”
The 53-year-old added, “People talk about ruthlessness all the time, and there is ruthlessness in this team, whether it’s up front or in defense.” We really want to keep the ball away from the goal and win.
“We stick together, and we stick to the plan, and it worked again.”
“It’s a great honor to be a teacher or a player who gets to go to two games. I never take anything for granted, but it seems like I’m living in a fairy tale or something.”
In the 36th minute, Ella Toone scored for England with a shot into the top right corner. In the 63rd minute, Sam Kerr, who was making her first start of the event, tied the game with a long-range shot.
In the 71st minute, Millie Bright sent a long ball upfield that Lauren Hemp shot into the far bottom corner. This gave England the lead again.
The result was clear when Alessia Russo made it 3-1 with a low shot that beat Australia’s goalie Mackenzie Arnold four minutes before the end of the game.
“When they (Australia) scored, they got momentum, the place went crazy, and then Hempo’s goal just changed the momentum, which was key, so to get 3-1, you can settle down a bit and finish the game,” Russo said.
When asked about England’s chances in the final, the 24-year-old forward said, “Spain will be even harder.
“Every game in this league has been very good, so we need to be ready. But since we were little girls, we’ve been dreaming. We’re happy, we’ll get better, and we’ll be ready.”
England goalkeeper Lucy Bronze, who is 31 years old, had lost twice in the semi-finals before Wednesday’s win.
“The one thing I’ve always wanted to do is get to a World Cup final,” said Bronze, who plays club football for the Spanish team Barcelona.
Many people praised the Lionesses after their win on Wednesday. England men’s star Harry Kane told Sky Sports, “Massive congratulations to the Lionesses… We all support them, and we hope they can win in the final.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was also impressed, tweeting, “What a show @Lionesses. There’s just one more game… “Let’s get to Sunday!”