Photo Credit: Chris Hyde – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Co-hosts Australia’s FIFA Women’s World Cup dream is still alive following a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over France in Brisbane.

In front of a raucous crowd in Brisbane Stadium, Australia started strongly, enjoying long periods of dominance for most of the 90 but struggling to convert that territorial advantage into a goal.

France slowly came into the game as it drifted towards an seemingly inevitable extra-time. The ever dangerous Kadidiatou Diani was a constant menace but the Matildas backline held firm, with Alanna Kennedy in particular making some crucial blocks and clearances.

For the third time in this World Cup, penalties were needed to settle matters. Selma Bacha missed France’s first effort but was given a reprieve when Steph Catley missed Australia’s second as the pendulum constantly swung.

Goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold has the chance to win it with the fifth spot kick after she had saved from Eve Perisset but struck the outside of the post.

Kenza Dali and Clare Hunt exchanged misses with the 17th and 18th efforts as the teams set a record for the longest ever FIFA Women’s World Cup penalty shoot-out.

Finally, the chance to make history fell to 21 year-old Cortnee Vine, after Vicki Becho had hit the post, and she calmly slotted the ball past substitute ‘keeper Solene Durand to send Brisbane Stadium into raptures and her nation into a World Cup semi-final.

Australia: 0 (7)
France: 0 (6)

HT: 0-0

England secured a gritty 2-1 victory over Colombia at Stadium Australia, as they advanced to the semi-finals in their quest to complete a European-World Cup double.

Colombia were the last remaining South American team in the competition and started the match strongly, pressing their opponents high up the pitch in a bid to force errors in England’s backline.

In what was always likely to be a tense affair, the first goal was vital and came via Colombia’s Leicy Santos in the 44th minute. Her cross/shot from the right-hand side sailing over the head of Mary Earps and nestling in the far corner. 

Nelson Abadia would have been desperate to get his side in at half-time 1-0 up but watched on in dismay as goalkeeper Catalina Perez spilled the ball in the penalty area, with Lauren Hemp the quickest to react, prodding home in the final minute of stoppage time.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 12: Georgia Stanway of England celebrates her team’s 2-1 victory in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Quarter Final match between England and Colombia at Stadium Australia on August 12, 2023 in Sydney / Gadigal, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

As is often the case in semi-finals, the longer the match ticked on the tighter and scrappier it became. England enjoying the majority of the second-half possession but their opponents looking a constant threat on the counter, with the dangerous trio of Linda Caicedo, Catalina Usme and Mayra Ramirez keeping England on edge.

With just over an hour gone, England found their winning goal, coming from the right boot of Arsenal’s Alessia Russo – latching onto a Georgia Stanway through ball and drilling past Perez in net.

Colombia attempted to rally as the minutes disappeared but could not find a way past Earps and England held on to book a semi-final berth against Australia on Wednesday.

England: 2 (Lauren HEMP 45’+7′, Alessia RUSSO 63′)
Colombia: 1 (Leicy SANTOS 44′)

HT: 2-1