Over the last week or so, we’ve seen the quarter’s and semi finals of this years Women’s World Cup take place and as we now approach the end of this incredible game changing tournament it’s time for one final brief round-up of all the final results and who will be facing off in Sydney on Sunday for the trophy.
Spain 2 - 1 Netherlands
After 120 minutes of football, it was Spain who emerged narrow victors over the Netherlands to secure the first Semi-Final slot last Friday as Paraluello scored a 111th minute winner to give them a 2-1 victory. During the course of the game Jorge Vilda’s side were completely dominant, they had 28 shots in total and had 62% possession overall. But they failed to score until the 81st minute, Mariona Caldentey converted from the penalty spot, and they only held the lead for ten minutes as Stefanie van der Gragt converted in the 91st minute to send the game to extra-time.
Paraluello’s introduction proved key for La Roja in the end, as after 40 minutes since her introduction to the game, the 19-year-old winger scored her first ever World Cup goal with a neat finish at the far post which came off the woodwork. The Netherlands had a few chances to level the game in extra-time but the Spanish held on for another victory and to extend their stay in the tournament. Meanwhile, it means no back to back World Cup finals for the Netherlands but they should still be proud of how they performed overall.
Japan 1 - 2 Sweden
Arguably two of the most impressive sides from the tournament so far had to face off for a place in the semi-final. After an incredible performance against Italy in the RO16, Sweden faced a different challenge in Japan, as they were full of energy, passion and had scored lots of goals across the tournament so far.
Despite their incredible record so far, the Japanese failed to perform for the first hour of the game and ultimately paid the price as Amanda Illestedt and Filippa Angeldal put the Swedes 2 goals up. But once the Japanese finally registered a shot on target in the 63rd minute, Sweden faced an absolute onslaught, with shot after shot being fired in from Japan. But they stood strong and despite conceding late on to Honoka Hayashi, they held on and secured a place in a World Cup semi-final against Spain.
Australia 0 (7) - 0 (6) France - After penalties
Host nation Australia, secured their place in a World Cup semi-final for the first time in their history after a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over France. The game lacked in extreme amounts of quality throughout hence why it was goalless after 120 minutes, which meant it was down to the tenseness and nerves of a penalty shootout.
Australia had the chance to win the shootout with their fifth penalty, goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold stepped up but failed to convert, meaning it headed to sudden death. Clare Hunt then had the chance to secure the victory as Kenza Dali missed but she also couldn’t convert for the Matilda’s. But eventually, Cortnee Vine stepped up and at the third time of asking secured the victory for the Aussies in front of a jubilant home crowd.
England 2 - 1 Colombia
On paper this game was certainly rumoured to be the best quarter-final tie on offer at this year’s WWC, and it didn’t disappoint. In the end it was the Lionesses who progressed to their third consecutive WWC semi-final as they impressively beat Colombia 2-1. England did have to show sheer grit and determination as it was Colombia who scored first through Leicy Santos in the 44th minute, despite a pretty lacklustre first half yet again, England fought back quickly and secured a crucial and pretty lucky leveller deep into added time at the end of the first half thanks to Lauren Hemp.
In the second half England dominated their opponents and were soon rewarded thanks to Alessia Russo, she superbly let the ball run, spun past the Colombian defender and fired a low powerful effort across the keeper and into the far corner to put the Lionesses 2-1 up. Colombia soon began to pile on the pressure to try and force the match into extra time, but England were incredible in defence, Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly, Millie Bright, Jess Carter and Alex Greenwood all stood firm, showed their experience and protected that 1 goal lead until the end to set up a semi-final tie with Australia.
Spain 2 - 1 Sweden
Spain are through to their first ever Women’s World Cup final after beating Sweden 2-1. For large parts of the game both teams struggled to create any real clear cut chances even though Sweden did force Spanish keeper Coll into some half decent saves. It may have taken 80 minutes but the game finally came to life, Paraluello once again came off the bench and scored with her side’s first shot on target. Despite being under pressure in the box, she managed to squeeze her effort past Musovic. Sweden showed great resilience and grabbed an equaliser in the 88th minute as Rebecka Blomqvist fired home. But just 93 seconds after Sweden's leveller La Rojas soon shattered Swedish hearts as Olga Carmona’s strike from outside the area went in off the crossbar ensuring no extra time and securing Spain’s first ever WC final appearance on Sunday. Meanwhile for Sweden another disappointment for them as it’s the fourth time in their history they’ve been eliminated at the semi-final stages of a WC, but still what an incredible tournament they’ve had and they can of course match their performance from 2019 if they win the Bronze medal on Saturday.
Australia 1 - 3 England
England have reached the Women’s World Cup Final for the very first time in their history after they thrashed Australia 3-1 in Sydney. The current European champions are closing in on their third trophy in a year under Sarina Wiegman, the game was tight in the early stages and it took a moment of brilliance from Ella Toone to open the scoring. A cut back ball from Russo found Toone in the box who hit the ball as sweet as a nut, and it fired past Arnold into the top corner. The Matilda’s hit back in the second half through Sam Kerr who also produced an excellent finish from outside the area to spark scenes of pure joy and pandemonium in the stands.
The game looked destined for extra-time but England had other ideas, Lauren Hemp who was arguably the best player on the pitch fought her way through the Australian defence to get on the end of a ball from Mille Bright and calmly slotted the ball past Arnold to restore the Lionesses lead. Shortly after, Kerr missed a golden opportunity to level the game at one end and England broke quickly down the other end and Alessia Russo beautifully shot across the keeper (a carbon copy of her finish in the QF against Colombia) to put her side 3-1 up and more importantly secure a place in the final against Spain on Sunday. Meanwhile for Australia, it wasn’t to be WC glory in their host tournament, but they still have changed the women’s game in Australia for the better off the back of this tournament and they still have a chance to secure third place tomorrow if they beat Sweden.
So when are the final two games of this incredible tournament?
Well the third place game between Australia and Sweden takes place on Saturday morning at 9am (BST) on ITV1. The build up/coverage starts from 8:30am.
The highly anticipated final between Spain and England takes place on Sunday morning at 11am (BST) on both BBC and ITV1. Can the Lionesses go all the way and finally win the Women’s World Cup or will it be Spain who prevails?
Either way this Women’s World Cup tournament has shaped and improved women’s football all across the globe in such a positive way and it’s incredible to see just how much the standard has improved across all the teams. And one thing is for certain every single team out of the 32 has played their part in making this tournament a huge success.