England beat Colombia to reach Women’s World Cup semifinals

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England have set up a mouth-watering FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final against co-hosts Australia after battling back from a goal down to see off Colombia here on Saturday.

Lauren Hemp and Alessio Russo scored the goals that took the Lionesses through to the last four for a third successive edition, after Leicy Santos had put the impressive Cafeteras in front.

Sarina Wiegman’s side set the early pace, and Russo nearly scored with a powerful effort that struck the head of Carolina Arias, who was forced off soon after.

That injury didn’t disrupt Colombia’s rhythm, though, and they claimed a spectacular opener as half-time approached when Santos sent a cross-cum-shot looping over the stranded Mary Earps and inside the far post.

Replays suggested that the Atletico Madrid star had looked up and spotted Earps off her line and, if the goal was indeed intentional, it ranks as one of the best of the tournament.

However, just as Santos and her team-mates looked set to retreat to the dressings rooms with a hard-earned half-time lead, disaster struck for Catalina Perez. The Colombia goalkeeper looked to have a simple job sliding out to collect a loose ball, but allowed the ball to squirm out of her grasp and, in the ensuing panic, Hemp reacted quickest to stab home.

That same clinical edge was on display when England grabbed a 63rd-minute winner, with Russo racing through on to a Georgia Stanway pass and rifling an unstoppable right-foot shot into the far corner of the net.

Colombia couldn’t find a way through thereafter, but while their historic and memorable World Cup adventure has come to an end, they depart for home with their heads held high and their reputation very much enhanced.

England coach Sarina Wiegman said, “That was a tough challenge but we didn’t expect anything else. Again, we showed resilience. In the first half, we played pretty well but whenever we were sloppy on the ball, Colombia were really dangerous on the counter-attack. We know how dangerous they can be but I’m very proud of the team for finding a way to win. The Australia match will be huge, but this was big too – and it also felt like an away game.”

England forward Alessia Russo said, “I’m buzzing! We’re in the semi-final of a World Cup and we’re keeping the dream alive. Colombia are a top team, and they’ve shown that in this World Cup. It was a really tough test, but I’m so happy we are in the semis. They have so many talented players that can cause you trouble within a second, but I thought our backline were brilliant tonight. What makes this team great is that we’re always trying to find ways to improve. We’ve got lots to work on, we’ll get rested and recovered and go again.”

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