Russo’s second-half goal lifts England into World Cup semi-finals

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Alessia Russo’s second-half goal lifted England to a thrilling 2-1 quarter-final victory over Colombia on Saturday and into the Women’s World Cup semi-finals for the third consecutive time.

Lauren Hemp also scored for the European champions, who now face hosts Australia on Wednesday in Sydney for a place in their first World Cup final.

“It’s exciting, what more do you want in front of a home crowd?” Russo, who was named player of the match, told ITV. “We got a bit of that tonight against Colombia. You want to play against the best teams.

“England fans can always dare to dream but we’ll carry on working hard,” Russo said.

Colombia, who were the lowest-ranked team remaining at 25 and had never made it past the round of 16, opened the scoring with a goal from Leicy Santos to the delight of the large swathes of yellow-and-blue clad Colombian fans among the crowd of 75,784 at Stadium Australia.

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The fourth-ranked Lionesses, missing top scorer Lauren James to a two-game suspension, were one of just four top-10 ranked teams left standing — along with Sweden (3), Spain (6) and Australia (10) — in a tournament that has been full of delightful twists and turns.

“I’m very, very happy to stay here for another week,” coach Sarina Wiegman said. “I think the team showed again some resilience and a lot of togetherness.”

Asked what Wiegman — the lone female head coach remaining from the original dozen — said in the post-game huddle, Russo answered: “Sarina said that she was proud. Lots to work on and we get rested and go again.”

Russo netted the winner in the 63rd minute, pouncing on a through ball from Georgia Stanway that bounced off a Colombia defender and into the path of the Arsenal forward, who fired low and hard into the bottom corner.

Santos scored against the run of play in the 44th minute, launching a curling ball that deflected off the leg of Rachel Daly and into the top corner of the 18-yard box, grazing Mary Earps’s fingertips and going into the far corner of the net.

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Trailing for the first time in the tournament, the Lionesses, who are undefeated in 37 of their last 38 games, kept their composure and when Colombian keeper Catalina Perez fumbled and lost the ball on Russo’s shot, Hemp was there to poke it in from six yards out just before the halftime whistle.

“This team is really special. Long may that continue,” Hemp said. “The atmosphere was incredible. The connection I have with Alessia is really strong. Bring on Australia. I am absolutely buzzing. I am over the moon and can’t wait.”

Lorena Bedoya Durango had an excellent chance at an equaliser with a long-range effort late in regulation time that Earps deflected over the crossbar.

Eighteen-year-old Linda Caicedo, who was one of the most exciting players at the World Cup, had a last chance deep in extra time but shook her head after firing the ball over the bar.

-Reuters

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