FIFA Women's World Cup
England vs. Australia highlights: England advances to first final
FIFA Women's World Cup

England vs. Australia highlights: England advances to first final

Updated Aug. 16, 2023 1:22 p.m. ET

England proved its strength against Australia on Wednesday (on FOX and the FOX Sports app) in what lived up to its must-see semifinal billing at Sydney's Stadium Australia. 

England jumped on the board first with a goal from Ella Toone late in the first half, which held up until Sam Kerr broke through to knot the score in the 63rd minute of play. Unfortunately for the Matildas, it was not to be though, as England scored the go-ahead goal just eight minutes later as Lauren Hemp drove a shot into the back of the net for the 2-1 lead. The Lionesses would add one more in the waning stages of the match to give them the 3-1 margin.

Australia was on the verge of playing in the final while also hosting the World Cup. It would have been the first time since 1999 that a country hosting the event played for the women's title (the United States also did so, winning against China in the final that year).

For England, the win gives them its first final appearance at the Women's World Cup in the country's long history. 


Our coverage is below, featuring analysis from FOX Sports' Michael Cohen!

FINAL: England 3, Australia 1

Australia vs. England Highlights | 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup | Semifinals

England and Australia wrapped up the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup semifinals, as both teams looked to move on and play against Spain in the finals. Check out the top moments and highlights here!

Final analysis

Cohen: When the ball skewed wide right off Sam Kerr's foot in the 85th minute of the second semifinal at this year's Women's World Cup, the Australian star put hands on head in disbelief. That moment — that golden opportunity inside the 6-yard box — could have transformed a tightly contested match with England into one of the greatest sporting triumphs in Australia's history had Kerr netted her second equalizer of the second half. But in the span of a minute, everything about the Matildas' feel-good story unraveled.

A swift England counterattack saw forward Lauren Hemp scoop the ball in midfield and nimbly twist her way past two defenders into open space. She drove hard at the Australian back line and then slotted a pass to teammate Alessia Russo flying down the right wing. Russo's low shot found the far corner of the net in the 86th minute to give the Lionesses an insurmountable 3-1 lead as Kerr stood motionless at the other end of the field, her body stooped, her head bowed. What might have been a 2-2 draw on the verge of extra time was gut-wrenchingly uprooted.

And so it was England that advanced to the World Cup final for the first time, securing a date with Spain in an all-European showdown the likes of which hasn't happened since Germany faced Sweden in 2003. It's a remarkable achievement for the Lionesses' manager, Sabrina Wiegman, who reaches her second consecutive final after guiding the Netherlands to a runner-up finish in 2019. There can be little question of her place atop the hierarchy of women's soccer managers after winning back-to-back European Championships and now advancing to the World Cup final in back-to-back tournaments.

It was Wiegman's intelligent decision to employ a 3-5-2 formation against Australia that set the tone for her team's semifinal win. The center back trio of Jess Carter, Millie Bright and the superb Lauren Greenwood corralled and confounded Kerr, their supremely gifted — albeit ailing — Australian counterpart, whose only breakthrough came on a driving counterattack that ended with a wonder strike from 25 yards in the 63rd minute. Nearly everything else about the Lionesses' performance was rather comfortable, from their 58% possession to their 478-332 edge in total passes. Wiegman had devised the perfect plan, and her players calmly executed despite the best efforts of a raucous, sold-out, overwhelmingly pro-Australian crowd.

England survived to keep its dream of a first Women's World Cup title alive.

Full time

Cohen: England 3, Australia 1. The Lionesses advance to the Women's World Cup final for the first time. Goals from Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo were enough to overcome a lightning-bolt strike from Australian star Sam Kerr midway through the second half. Led by manager Sarina Wiegman, who guided the Netherlands to the World Cup final in 2019, England advances to play Spain on Sunday. 

93': Australia almost out of time 

Cohen: We've reached get-it-launched territory now for England. Ten players behind the ball sending every clearance as far as they can toward the Australia goal. It doesn't look like there will be enough time for the Matildas, who have given everything in this match.

90': England nearly at the finish line 

Cohen: England manager Sabrina Wiegman melting the clock now by using every substitution window available to her. Two changes in the last couple of minutes to kill the momentum as we enter stoppage time. Six minutes.

86': GOAL! England is taking control

England's Alessia Russo scores goal vs. Australia in 86' | 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

Watch England's Alessia Russo scoring a goal against Australia in the 86' in the 2023 Women's FIFA World Cup.

Cohen: GOAL! And England all but seals it a minute later with a goal on the break. That's how fine the margins are. Sam Kerr, head hanging, watches the Lionesses celebrating less than a minute after her missed opportunity at the other end. A beautiful turn in midfield by Lauren Hemp, who drives across the midway line and slides a pass into the path of Alessia Russo for a far-post finish. It's 3-1.

85': Kerr nearly ties it again

Cohen: Wow, what a miss from Sam Kerr. A poor punch from England goalkeeper Mary Earps lands at Kerr's feet inside the 6-yard box. Her right-footed volley skews wide in what was her best opportunity of the match. Kerr immediately put her hands on her head in disbelief.

84': Aussies in desperation mode now

Cohen: Caution to the wind for Australia now. They are pushing everything they have into the final third. Crosses being whipped in. Shots testing the England back line. Sam Kerr making run after run in behind the English center backs. What a game.

England fans were HYPED after that second goal

81': Shot attempts favor England

Cohen: England still holds a 14-8 edge in total shots, but Australia has narrowed the gap in shots on target. It's four for England to three for Australia in that category. Here's the England shot chart with the two goals outlined in blue, courtesy of Opta.

75': Kerr attacking in 2nd half

Cohen: Updated heatmap for Sam Kerr, courtesy of WhoScored, shows the more advanced positions she's finding in the second half. Kerr had nary a touch in the England final third in the first half. Now she's repeatedly testing England's back line in the first 30 minutes of the second half.

73':  Australia makes a change

Cortnee Vine replaced one of the top goal-scorers on the Australian side, Hayley Raso.

71': GOAL! England regains the lead 2-1

England's Lauren Hemp scores goal vs. Australia in 71' | 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

Watch England's Lauren Hemp scoring a goal against Australia in the 71' in the 2023 Women's FIFA World Cup.

Cohen: GOAL! England answer right back to take a 2-1 lead. An awkward bit of defending from Australia there. Two defenders and the goalkeeper were all in the area, but a breakdown in communication allowed Lauren Hemp to pounce on the bouncing ball and slot it into the corner. Australia goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold appeared uncertain about whether to come out for the ball, and that left her in no man's land as Hemp chased it down.

Did you know?

Ella Toone became the first England player (inclusive of men and women) to score in a quarterfinal, semifinal AND final of major international tournaments (Euros/World Cup).

QF - vs Spain at Euro 2022
SF - vs Australia at 2023 Women's World Cup
Final - vs Germany at Euro 2022

63': GOAL! Sam Kerr with the equalizer!

Australia's Sam Kerr scores goal vs. England in 63' | 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

Watch Australia's Sam Kerr scoring a goal against England in the 63' in the 2023 Women's FIFA World Cup.

Cohen: That's the moment Australia was waiting for from Sam Kerr. She picked up the ball in her own half and then drove at the England defense, one against two, before letting fly from well outside the 18-yard box. Kerr's right-footed shot took a slight touch off Millie Bright, but she had goalkeeper Mary Earps beat. 

What a strike from Sam Kerr to level this game at 1-1. Shot chart courtesy of Opta.

Did you know?

Sam Kerr now has six career Women's World Cup goals, trailing only Lisa De Vanna (seven) for most in team history

62': Greenwood delivering for England

Cohen: Ella Toone's goal notwithstanding, defender Alex Greenwood has been the best player on the pitch for England. Her combination of passing accuracy (57/60, 95%) and defensive prowess (team-high three clearances) is impressive. She's played a critical role in England's efforts to build from the back and is extremely reliable in the air cutting out Australia's crosses.

59': England gaining possession 

Cohen: Possession is starting to tilt back toward the first-half numbers with England up to 51% now. They've matched Australia's total passes in the second half and have an 84% to 82% edge in passing accuracy.

57': Arnold keeps it close 

51': Australia making a push early in the half

Cohen: Australia opens with 57% possession in the first six minutes of the second half, putting together some of its best attacking sequences of the game. The Matildas are pressing higher than they did in the first half in an effort to turn England over in more dangerous parts of the field. England also seems a bit more cautious and willing to cede possession with the benefit of a 1-0 lead.

49': The Aussies taking it to England early in the second half

46': The second half is underway!

Halftime: England 1, Australia 0 

Cohen: England takes a 1-0 lead into the break courtesy of a 36th-minute strike from midfielder Ella Toone that found the upper-right corner of the net. It's a fair reflection of how the first half unfolded with the Lionesses maintaining 67% possession and out-shooting Australia by 7-4, with just one of the Matildas' efforts landing on target to test goalkeeper Mary Earps. Every England outfield player had at least 20 touches in the first half as manager Sarina Wiegman's side held a 299-141 edge in total passes. Only three of Australia's outfield players managed 20 or more touches.

Much of the pregame buzz centered on the return of star striker Sam Kerr to Australia's starting lineup. Kerr, who is still recovering from a calf injury, had played 77 minutes across two substitute appearances entering today's match. Though she appeared more springy and energetic, Kerr was largely contained by England's three center backs in a 3-5-2 formation. Kerr touched the ball 16 times — tied for the fewest among Australia's outfield players — and recorded neither a shot nor a successful dribble. She completed just 50% of her passes, which was the lowest mark among the Matildas in manager Tony Gustavsson's starting lineup.

The biggest question entering the second half is how long will Gustavsson wait to make changes. He's likely to continue with his original game plan for at least the first 15 or 20 minutes before entertaining a more aggressive shift. It's also fair to wonder how long Kerr can last. This was always the risk of using Kerr from the start rather than bringing her off the bench. Australia managed so little possession and so few attacking chances in the first half that her presence — and, more importantly, her energy levels — have been largely irrelevant. The Matildas are now left to search for a second-half spark without their ace in the hole off the bench.

And perhaps this stat will prove most telling 45 minutes from now: England is 12-0-0 when leading after the first half in the Women's World Cup.

Did you know: 

No team has won a knockout stage match in the Women's World Cup when trailing after the first half since 2003, when Germany defeated Sweden 2-1 in the final after trailing 1-0 at the half.

Age is just a number

The average age of Australia's starting eleven against England today is 27 years 163 days, their oldest in a Women's World Cup match in the history of the tournament.

43': Australia unable to generate offensive opportunities

Cohen: Here's a look at the heatmap for Sam Kerr, courtesy of WhoScored. As you can see, she hasn't spent much time in the final third given Australia's inability to maintain possession. Kerr has 14 total touches and has completed 6 of 11 passes thus far.

40': No need to panic

Cohen: Despite falling behind 1-0, Australia has no reason to panic just yet. They can continue to defend and look for counter-attacking opportunities as long as the margin remains one goal. Manager Tony Gustavsson won't have to adjust his strategy until well into the second half, unless Australia falls farther behind.

38': Australia nearly responds!

England fans bringing energy after that goal!

Marcus Rashford knew!

36': GOAL! England up 1-0 as halftime draws closer

England's Ella Toone scores goal vs. Australia in 36' | 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

Watch England's Ella Toone scoring a goal against Australia in the 36' in the 2023 Women's FIFA World Cup.

Cohen: GOAL! What a strike from England's Ella Toone to give the Lionesses a 1-0 lead. A beautiful cutback from the end line finds Toone on the left side of the penalty area, and she smashes a strike into the top right corner. No chance for Australia's goalkeeper on that. A beautiful hit.

Did you know?

England is unbeaten all-time when scoring first in the Women's World Cup, going 16-2-0 (W-D-L) in those matches.

34': Keep it 100 

33': Early formations showing how England is attacking

Cohen: A look at the average player positions for England thus far, courtesy of Sofascore. Four players spending most of their time in the Australia half of the field, plus three others right around the midway line. That's another reason why manager Sarina Wiegman likely opted for the 3-5-2. In games when a team dominates possession, as England has, leaving just three players in the back adds an extra player to the attack.

32': Aussies make a push

25': Australians trying for the long connection  

Cohen: This passing chart, courtesy of Opta, shows just how direct the Australians are trying to play. The average length of their passes is telling, and the number of long balls attempted relative to the total number of passes is hovering around 19.7% thus far. That's a huge number.

23': England on the ground a lot early

21': England continues to get great chances

20': England controlling possession

Cohen: Early possession numbers are about what most people expected through the first 20 minutes. England is keeping the ball 69% of the time and has out-passed Australia by 129-56 thus far. This is a game of ball retention for England vs. rare moments on the counter for Australia. The Lionesses also hold a 6-0 edge in shots.

17': Mackenzie Arnold has been huge for Australia

16': Australia easing Kerr's defensive responsibilities

Cohen: Australia manager Tony Gustavsson is playing it safe with Sam Kerr defensively. He's all but erased her defensive responsibilities by just asking Kerr to hover near the center circle for potential counterattacks the other way. It makes sense given her limited fitness, but that strategy also asks even more of the remaining nine outfield players because it complicates any pressure Australia can generate.

13': England on the attack

11': England physical early with Sam Kerr

Cohen: That's the second crunching tackle on Australia's Sam Kerr, who is still recovering from a calf injury. Fair to wonder if that's part of England's strategy: to play physical against an elite athlete whose explosiveness is already limited. But that's a very early yellow card for England's Alex Greenwood to deal with. She'll have to be smart for long stretches of this game.

9': England's first chance DENIED

England's Georgia Stanway gets off a shot on goal but Mackenzie Arnold is there to make the save

England's Georgia Stanway got off a shot on goal vs. Australia but Mackenzie Arnold was there to make the save.

8': Australia's defense looking stout

Cohen: On the flip side, Australia's defensive tactic of giving those three English center backs plenty of space when the Lionesses have the ball is designed to clog passing lanes in midfield. By sagging off, Australia can place more bodies around England's midfielders and make it harder for connecting passes from the back line. That encourages and entices England to play longer passes that have lower success rates.

7': Kerr caught offsides

4': England's 3-5-2 vs Sam Kerr

Cohen: Sarina Wiegman's decision to play a 3-5-2 formation presents a fascinating battle with Australia's Sam Kerr. Three center backs defending more narrowly takes away some of the space in the inside channels, which is where Kerr loves to run in behind defenses. Worth watching to see if Kerr drifts wider at times to find the less-congested areas.

1': Kerr tangled up early!

1': And we are off!


Setting the stage

Australia vs. England Preview | World Cup Tonight

The "World Cup Tonight" crew previewed the Australia vs. England matchup in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup semifinals and discussed whether Sam Kerr can lead the Matildas to the finals.

Australia is ready to go!

Almost ready for action

Young Australia fans out to support the team

Being part of the World Cup field is unlike anything else

'The joy, the pride, the honor of representing an entire country' - Ali Riley on being apart of the 32 teams in the Women's World Cup

FOX's Tom Rinaldi highlighted the emotions of the 32 teams representing their respective countries in the FIFA Women's World Cup.

England's outlook

Across 37 games in charge of England, manager Sarina Wiegman has lost just once — a 2-0 defeat to Australia in a friendly earlier this year. Her record outside of that game includes 29 wins and just seven draws. She helped England win the European Championship last summer and guided the Dutch national team to a World Cup runner-up finish in 2019. Every conversation about the best managers in women's football includes Wiegman at, or near, the top of the list.

Today, Wiegman is trying to guide England to its first Women's World Cup final in the country's third consecutive trip to the semifinals. England is the only side to reach the last three semis and just the third nation to ever reach three semifinals in a row, joining the United States from 1991-2019 and Norway from 1991-99. England is 3-1-2 all time against Australia.

Player's to Watch

FWD Alessia Russo — With phenom Lauren James serving the second, and final, game of her suspension for a red card picked up against Nigeria, it's Russo who becomes critically important for the Lionesses. Russo is tied for second on the team with two goals at this year's tournament — trailing only James, who netted three — and she leads all players at the World Cup with 11 shots on target. Her overall total of 17 shots leads England and is tied for fifth among all players.

DEF Alex Greenwood — The Manchester City player leads all defenders at this year's tournament with 13 interceptions. She also ranks third in passes into the final third with 45, which is four more than any other English player. Her tally of 40 progressive passes leads England and is tied for seventh overall.

MID Georgia Stanway — The 24-year-old rising star is arguably the most important player in England's midfield with 10 chances created across five games, a mark bested only by Spain's Jenni Hermoso with 13. Stanway's 11 key passes leads the Lionesses at the offensive end of the field, while her tally of 11 blocks leads England on the defensive end of the pitch.

England will never quit

Chloe Kelly, Rachel Daly talk England's resilience during 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

Chloe Kelly and Rachel Daly sat down to talk about England's resilience in their goal to win the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup. 

Australia's outlook

Manager Tony Gustavsson made his biggest call of the tournament by selecting star striker Sam Kerr in his starting lineup for the semifinal against England. Kerr, who suffered a calf injury in the final days of training before the World Cup, has only appeared in two matches thus far and came off the bench both times. She's played a total of 77 minutes.`

Gustavsson's team is seeking to become just the second host nation to reach the Women's World Cup final, with the United States being the last side to do so in 1999. It's the second time the Australians have reached the semifinals of a global tournament after finishing fourth at the Olympics two years ago. The Matildas have lost just twice in their last 15 matches by going 12-1-2 during that stretch.

[Sam Kerr gets first start of 2023 World Cup in Australia's semifinal vs. England]

Players to watch

FWD Sam Kerr — The 29-year-old Chelsea star has created two chances and registered two shots in her brief appearances off the bench. But over the course of her international career, Kerr is averaging roughly one goal every two matches. Her speed and willingness to make runs in behind will test the England back line, which includes two of her club teammates at Chelsea.

GK Mackenzie Arnold — A hero in Australia's shootout win over France to reach the semifinals, Arnold has been a central figure for a defensive unit that has kept four clean sheets in five games, the most of any team in the tournament. She's tied for eighth among goalkeepers with 15 saves and has an 83.3% save percentage.

MID Hayley Raso — With Kerr playing a smaller role, Raso has stepped forward and leads the team with three goals. She's placed 71.4% of her shots on target thus far — the ninth-best mark at the tournament — and has an impressive rate of +1.6 goals minus expected goals (xG), which demonstrates an ability to cash in difficult chances.

Australia fans are showing up tonight!

Kerr starting tonight

Sam Kerr is back in the starting lineup tonight for the home team.

Australia is HYPED

Australia gripped by 'Matildas Mania' ahead of semifinals match with England

The World Cup crew discussed "Matilda's Mania" ahead of the semifinals matchup between Australia and England.

Starting XI for Australia

England Starting XI 

Australia is READY

Fans are ready to spark the home team

Inspiring the future

Australia is hoping to leave its mark on future generations.

Check out the full Women's World Cup schedule and how to watch each match live here. Find the latest scores here.

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