Australia’s hopes of playing in a Women’s World Cup final will remain a dream for at least four more years after England defeated the joint hosts 3-1 to book a place in the tournament’s last match against Spain.
(Bloomberg) — Australia’s hopes of playing in a Women’s World Cup final will remain a dream for at least four more years after England defeated the joint hosts 3-1 to book a place in the tournament’s last match against Spain.
A sell-out crowd of 75,784 fans filled Stadium Australia in Sydney on Wednesday night as England beat the Australian side, known as the Matildas. Fans will pour back into the same venue for the final on Sunday night while the Australian side will face Sweden in the third-place playoff in Brisbane the previous evening.
A cagey opening half hour saw few chances from either side until Manchester United midfielder Ella Toone broke the deadlock on the 36th minute. Shortly after the hour mark, Chelsea’s Sam Kerr stamped her authority on this World Cup with a sensational long-range equaliser.
Just seven minutes later, Lauren Hemp retook the lead for England after the Australian defenders failed to deal with a long ball. Arsenal forward Alessia Russo scored a third goal for the Lionesses before being substituted as coach Sarina Wiegman began to plan for the final. Toone was also taken off moments later.
More than 2 billion people around the world were predicted to watch the tournament, Euromonitor International forecast, up from 1.1 billion viewers at the last cup in 2019.
European champions England, playing without key midfielder Lauren James who was suspended, will take on Spain after their dramatic 2-1 win against Sweden on Tuesday. James is expected to return for the final.
The Matildas were just the second team — after the US — to have made it through to the semi-finals of the women’s competition as hosts.
Corporate Australia is getting a kicker from the competition so far, which has been co-hosted with New Zealand over the past month. Online job ads company Seek Ltd. said on its Tuesday earnings call that July figures showed a boost across the hospitality sector, likely due to the World Cup and the abnormal demand for staff.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s biggest lender, has a four-year deal to back the national team and has reiterated its commitment to help the national soccer federation hit its gender parity participation ambitions by 2027.
News Corp. Australia said World Cup interest ramped up on its news.com.au website during the competition, with traffic for Australia’s quarter-final match soaring 90% compared with its first match against Ireland, Mediaweek reported.
For the national broadcaster and owner of the World Cup’s free-to-air rights, Seven West Media Ltd., the competition has even driven scheduling.
“The audience has been absolutely unbelievable,” Seven West Chief Executive Officer James Warburton said on the firm’s earnings call Wednesday.
–With assistance from Michael Heath, Georgina McKay, Amy Bainbridge, Peter Vercoe and Ainslie Chandler.
(Updates top of the story with details from the match.)
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