Russo's Thrilling Goal Sends England to World Cup Semis
In an exhilarating quarter-final match on Saturday, Alessia Russo's crucial second-half goal propelled England to a thrilling 2-1 victory over Colombia, securing their spot in the Women's World Cup semi-finals for the third consecutive time.
The European champions showcased their prowess as Lauren Hemp also found the back of the net. With this victory, they now gear up to face hosts Australia in Sydney on Wednesday, with their eyes set on reaching their first-ever World Cup final.
Reflecting on the electrifying atmosphere, Russo, who earned the title of player of the match, shared her excitement, stating, "What more could you ask for in front of a home crowd? Tonight's clash against Colombia had that energy. We relish the opportunity to compete against the best teams."
Russo added, "England fans have every reason to dream big, and we remain committed to putting in the hard work."
Colombia, a team ranked at 25 and previously not advancing beyond the round of 16, surprised many by taking the lead with a goal from Leicy Santos. The crowd of 75,784 at Stadium Australia witnessed an exhilarating contest, with the large contingent of passionate yellow-and-blue clad Colombian fans celebrating Santos's strike.
The fourth-ranked Lionesses, despite missing their top scorer Lauren James due to a two-game suspension, stood among the four top-10 ranked teams still competing in a tournament marked by twists and turns. Sweden (3), Spain (6), and Australia (10) were the other remaining high-ranking contenders.
Coach Sarina Wiegman expressed her elation, stating, "I'm immensely pleased to continue our journey for another week. The team's resilience and unity were on full display once again."
Russo shed light on Wiegman's post-game message, revealing, "Sarina conveyed her pride in the team. While acknowledging areas for improvement, she emphasized the need for rest and preparation for the challenges ahead."
Russo's decisive goal arrived in the 63rd minute, as she seized on a well-timed through ball from Georgia Stanway. A deflection off a Colombian defender directed the ball into Russo's path, and the Arsenal forward executed a precise low shot into the bottom corner.
Santos's 44th-minute goal, against the run of play, saw a curling shot deflected off Rachel Daly's leg and into the top corner of the 18-yard box. Despite the unexpected setback, the Lionesses, who have been nearly invincible in 37 of their last 38 matches, displayed remarkable composure. Just before halftime, Lauren Hemp capitalized on Colombian keeper Catalina Perez's fumble to poke the ball into the net from six yards out.
Hemp expressed her admiration for the team's unique bond, saying, "This team is truly exceptional. We're riding this wave of success. The energy in the stadium was unparalleled. My connection with Alessia is incredibly strong. Australia, here we come! I'm absolutely thrilled and can hardly contain my excitement."
Late in regulation time, Lorena Bedoya Durango came close to equalizing with a powerful long-range effort that goalkeeper Mary Earps managed to deflect over the crossbar.
Eighteen-year-old Linda Caicedo, a standout player in the World Cup, had a final opportunity deep into extra time, but her shot sailed over the bar, leaving England's victory intact.