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Despite Kerr’s stunning goal, England defeats Australia to advance to the World Cup final.

SYDNEY: England reached their first Women’s World Cup final after beating Australia 3-1 on Wednesday despite a wonder goal from Matildas striker Sam Kerr as the co-hosts’ fairytale run came to an end.
After falling at the semi-final stage in the previous two World Cups, England will face Spain on Sunday looking to add a world title to last year’s European Championship triumph.
Attacking midfielder Ella Toone gave England a first-half lead to silence most of the crowd of 75,784 but a stunning strike from Kerr, making her first start of the tournament, squared things up after halftime as Stadium Australia erupted in euphoria.
However, Lauren Hemp restored England’s lead before Alessia Russo put the result beyond doubt shortly before the end.
“This is the one thing I’ve always wanted, to make finals at a World Cup and after two times of getting huge disappointment, honestly I can’t believe it,” England full back Lucy Bronze said.
“We all dreamed of being in the final and all our family and friends who booked to stay here until the final because they all believed in us.
“At the same time, it’s been amazing to play against Australia in Australia. What a fantastic tournament they had as well.”
England coach Sarina Wiegman, who also took her native Netherlands to the 2019 final, said that they played a hard game but again found a way to win.
“We have been talking about ruthlessness and this team has ruthlessness, whether it is up front or in defence.”
Wiegman’s side clearly had a game plan to impose themselves physically on Australia, committing nine fouls in the first half as they nullified their opponents’ attacking options.
The Lionesses opened the scoring in the 36th minute when Russo worked her way to the byline before cutting the ball back and Toone smashed it into the top right corner for her first goal of the tournament.
Australia started the second half much brighter and began pressing England higher up the pitch, looking to create a historic moment that would match Cathy Freeman’s incredible 400 metres victory in the same venue at the 2000 Olympics.
And they got it in the 63rd minute when Kerr received the ball in her own half, ran toward goal and fired an unstoppable rocket into the top left corner from 25 yards out beyond the diving Mary Earps.
The stadium erupted as Australia fans finally got to see their star striker score at this tournament, reigniting hope that Tony Gustavsson’s side could yet play for the title. But the crowd were silenced just eight minutes later as the hosts found themselves behind again.
Matildas defender Ellie Carpenter failed to deal with a long ball over the top from Millie Bright, allowing Hemp an easy finish into the bottom corner to restore England’s lead.
The 23-year-old was involved again as the game entered the final stages.
Moments after Kerr had missed a golden chance to equalise once again, Hemp turned brilliantly on the halfway line before releasing Russo, who fired a low shot into the far corner to seal England’s place in the final.
An emotional Kerr said her Australia side had inspired the host nation despite the crushing disappointment.
“I have to think of all the things the team have done, and I have done, to be where we are now and to inspire a nation.
“It is just really disappointing.”
The 29-year-old Chelsea forward, who was supposed to have been the face of the tournament but saw her game time severely restricted by the injury, said their historic run into the last four should be the catalyst for broader change.
“I can only speak for the Matildas but we need funding in our development, we need funding in our grassroots,” she said.
That call was echoed by Australia’s coach Gustavsson, who was nevertheless proud of his players and said European champions England had been more clinical on the night.
“I hate to lose,” said the Swede, adding that he was looking at the bigger picture of what the Matildas had done over the past few weeks in attracting fans to women’s football.
“I’ve said it before — it’s bigger than 90 minutes of football.
“I feel for so many tonight, the players left it all out there,” said Gustavsson. “But it was one of those nights. England were clinical.
“We’re very disappointed that we lost, but hopefully we won something else — we’ve won the heart and the passion for this game in this country.” England will play Spain on Sunday, also at Stadium Australia.