Lauren Hemp hailed England as “a special team” and Ella Toone toasted the best shot of her life after the Lionesses reached their first World Cup final with a 3-1 victory over co-hosts Australia.

Hemp restored England’s lead in the second half, after Matildas captain Sam Kerr cancelled out Toone’s stunning opener, and provided the assist that allowed Alessia Russo to put the game away after 86 minutes.

England, who will face Spain in Sunday’s showdown in Sydney, are just one win away from securing the second major trophy in their history just under 13 months after becoming European champions at Wembley.


Player-of-the-match Hemp, who started every game of that triumph, said: “Oh my god, what a feeling. I feel like there are no words to describe what we all feel right now.

“It’s an unbelievable achievement, getting to a World Cup final. It’s every kid’s dream. I mean, I’ve got no words, I’m absolutely knackered right now. We’ve got a few days to recover but then we go again.

“We want to win this, obviously we’ve come so far now, so why not?

“I feel like as a team we have got such an inner-belief and also so much confidence as the group. No matter what happens on the outside, no matter who we come up against, every challenge we’ve managed to solve.

“I feel like this team is so special. You saw last year how successful we were. We want to do the same again and we want to go one step further.

“We have all got a dream. We’re pushing each other to be the best that we can and we know that whenever a player gets beaten by their opponent, we know there will be someone there, having each others’ backs, no matter what.”

World number four England have grown into this tournament since eking out a 1-0 win against Haiti, 49 places below them in FIFA’s global rankings, to open their campaign – sparking concerns about the Lionesses’ prowess in attack.

Russo and Hemp have netted three goals each in this tournament, equalling the contribution made by Chelsea forward Lauren James before she was sent off late in the second half of England’s victory over Nigeria in the last 16.

England have never had two different players score three or more goals at a single edition of the tournament before, with James also set to be available for Sunday’s final after serving the second match of her two-game suspension on Wednesday night.

That might put Toone’s chances of starting the final at risk, but the Manchester United midfielder could not have done any more to impress head coach Sarina Wiegman, lashing in a thunderous strike to set England on their way in Sydney.

“It fell straight to me in the box and I just thought ‘why not just smack it?’ Honestly, that’s the best shot I’ve hit in my life,” said Toone, who scored the opener in last summer’s Euro 2022 final triumph.

“Sometimes when you hit a ball, you just know I’ve caught that perfectly and I was like ‘wow, that was alright’. I think I knew as soon as it left my boot that it was going to end up in the back of the net.

“It seems to be I like the big stage in tournaments, but in tournament football it is often about taking those moments and it was my turn to do so tonight.

“I had my moment, it fell to me and I put it in the back of the net. Even if I hadn’t scored, I would still have done my job for this team, worked hard and did what I needed to do.

“When big moments fall to me in tournaments, I’ve taken them.”

England secured a 3-1 victory over home favourites Australia to reach the Women’s World Cup final.

Having fallen at the semi-final stage in the previous two tournaments, the Lionesses are now beginning preparations for Sunday’s showpiece against Spain.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at how Sarina Wiegman’s European champions saw off the Matildas to make history.

Toone on song

Having been criticised for her form earlier in the competition, Manchester United attacking midfielder Toone set England on their way with a fine opening goal.

In doing so, she became the first player in England history – male or female – to score goals in a quarter-final, semi-final and final of a
major tournament after enjoying a fine Euros last year.

Lauren Hemp scored the second before supplying a fine assist for Alessia Russo to wrap up the famous win, but Toone’s strike set the tone and she will be hoping to keep her place against Spain despite Lauren James returning from suspension.

Kerr-tains for hosts

Chelsea striker Sam Kerr was fit enough to start for Australia as the lethal finisher aimed to fire the Matildas into a first-ever final.

She equalised with a long-range effort that clipped off club-mate Millie Bright to beat Mary Earps and give the hosts hope of turning the game around.

However, she then wasted two gilt-edged chances to put Australia in front – heading over and then blazing high just moments before Russo struck to make sure of England’s spot in the final.

Post of the dayQuote of the dayWhat’s next?

Third-place play-off: Sweden v Australia (Brisbane, Saturday 0900BST)
Final: Spain v England (Sydney, Sunday 1100BST)

Lauren Hemp’s second-half strike helped fire England into their first World Cup final as the Lionesses sealed a 3-1 victory over co-hosts Australia in front of a sold-out crowd in Sydney.

Ella Toone, who replaced the suspended Lauren James for England’s quarter-final win over Colombia, netted 36 minutes into her second start of the tournament in front of a crowd of 75,784.

Australia captain Sam Kerr, making her first start of competition, equalised for the first-time semi-finalists with a stunning individual goal after the break before Hemp put England back out in front.

Alessia Russo added another late in the second half to cap off the historic encounter and set up an all-European final showdown against Spain on Sunday night in Sydney.

England are now one win away from lifting two major trophies in just under 13 months after their triumph at last summer’s European Championships, while Australia will play Sweden for third place in Brisbane on Saturday.

Beth Mead pointed to early World Cup exits for Germany and Brazil as a reminder that results trump performances after England scrapped their way to Wednesday’s semi-final meeting with Australia.

The Lionesses were far from their best in the group stage but emerged with three wins, a pattern that has continued into the knockout rounds as they narrowly edged past Nigeria and Colombia despite starting as heavy favourites to set up the meeting with the co-hosts in Sydney.

Much-fancied Germany, who Sarina Wiegman’s side beat in the European Championship final at Wembley a year ago, were surprisingly dumped out of the tournament at the first hurdle after losing to Colombia and failing to beat South Korea.

South American champions Brazil went out at the same stage after they were held to a surprise goalless draw by Jamaica, making only their second World Cup appearance, in their final game.

And Mead called for England’s critics to put the team’s own performances, which have failed to convince at times despite seeing the side progress to a third straight semi-final, in the context of illustrious rivals who failed to overcome the emerging nations of women’s football.

“You’re never going to play a perfect game every game,” she told the PA news agency whilst attending a McDonald’s Fun Football session ahead of the semi-final. McDonald’s has given 50,000 children access to free football throughout the summer.

“In the Euros, we grew into the tournament and I think it’s the same at the moment.

“We didn’t play our best game in the first two matches and still came away with two victories, in comparison to Germany or Brazil who got knocked out in the group stage. You don’t need to be firing on all cylinders if you’re winning games and getting momentum.

“But fans have an expectation of us to be playing 10 out of 10 every time we get on the football pitch. Unfortunately that’s not football. The opposition make it hard for you.

“But the girls are in a good place. We’ve made it to a semi-final and haven’t actually played our best football. It’s exciting to know they can still get to another level against Australia.”

Mead, who won the Golden Boot as the Lionesses were victorious at Euro 2022 but was ruled out of the World Cup with an ACL injury, pointed to defender Alex Greenwood as England’s standout performer at the tournament so far.

The Manchester City player has made the most interceptions of any player involved across all teams competing in Australia and New Zealand as well as the most touches and the highest number of passes.

Against Australia she is set to start in a back three alongside Chelsea pair Jess Carter and captain Millie Bright, and Mead is hopeful that the club connection will help give them the edge over fellow Blue Sam Kerr.

Australia’s all-time top scorer made her first appearance of the tournament as a late substitute during the last-16 win against Denmark after missing the group stage with a calf injury, coming off the bench once more against France, and coach Tony Gustavasson has hinted she may be used as an impact substitute against the Lionesses.

“Whether Sam Kerr is fully fit or not, she only needs one chance to score a goal,” said Mead. “The England players know that, Millie Bright plays with her every week at Chelsea and knows the ability that she has.

“She’s a player that can stay concentrated and in the game for 90 minutes, we’ve learned that the hard way over the years.

“They’ll have her locked in their sights for the full game. We need to keep her under wraps, we can’t give her a sniff on goal.

“But Alex Greenwood has made more interceptions than any other player at the tournament. She’s got a wand of a left foot and is under-rated in this team.”

Of the continued growth and popularity of the women’s game in England she added: “You can see that by the fact that McDonalds Fun Football sessions are oversubscribed by 160 per cent, it’s great to see first-hand how the next generation have been galvanised by the team.”

The club president of a university football club said the “Lionesses are paving the way” for young girls to have a career in women’s football.

Layana Sasieddine, a student at Imperial College London and club president of the women’s university football team in their upcoming season, said it is “inspiring” for any female footballer to see “there actually is a future” in the sport.

The bio-engineering student said the university society has grown from 60 to 100 members in the last year following the success of the Lionesses, saying there is a “spotlight” on the sport that was not there before.

Ms Sasieddine, 21, who was born in Lebanon but relocated to London to attend university, said her home country does not have the “support or resources” for women to develop careers in football, but she feels the Lionesses are paving the way for young girls in the UK.

“These little girls right now that are watching the Lionesses, you can see all that passion in them going towards the players,” Ms Sasieddine told the PA news agency.

“These girls are going to stick to football, play football and develop at such a young age – that’s something we didn’t have a few years ago.

“And that’s all due to the Lionesses winning and getting that exposure and really paving the way for all these little girls.”

Ms Sasieddine said her society, which has three teams ranging from beginners to advanced players, has grown in membership following the success of the Lionesses.

“We’re hoping that it’s going to continue, and I really believe that if the Lionesses win, it’s going to have a major impact on the UK and little girls playing football.

“Being able to see this change and these accomplishments is very inspiring, because women’s football didn’t have that spotlight before.

“It’s great for any female footballer to see that change and to see that there actually is a future in women’s football.”

Having grown up in Lebanon, Ms Sasieddine said she missed the opportunity to pursue a career in the sport, saying she “didn’t know that women’s football clubs existed”.

“I did not get the opportunity to start (playing) at a younger age, I started when I was about 14.

“I wish I started when I was like five or six, because I really believe that I would have liked to go pro or have a career, but at a younger age that was never an option for me.

“I didn’t know that women’s football clubs existed.”

Ms Sasieddine added that there was no female team at her school in Lebanon so she tried to start her own when she was in high school, but it ceased to exist after she left.

“It’s still tough, it took me a while to find female clubs – there were a few – but it wasn’t very accessible,” she said.

“It’s a bit odd for girls to play football still.

“We do have the national team, but there’s not enough support and resources to develop players for them to reach this type of level.”

She said if she had decided to develop her skills in the UK, she “could have made a career”, adding: “Little girls in London would have way more opportunities to develop, reach that level and actually make a living.”

Ms Sasieddine said that her university society has been trying to watch every World Cup game together, either in person or over the phone.

“I’m hoping that the Lionesses winning pushes more women to join a football society, or continue their career and journeys,” she said.

“The Lionesses reaching the semi-finals is a big deal.”

Of England’s semi-final match against Australia on Wednesday, she said: “Everyone’s behind the Lionesses.

“It would really mean a lot if they reached the final and win it – we’re all behind them.”

David Gower believes the reaction of the Lord's Long Room to Australia during the Ashes was "ugly" and "out of order".

Alex Carey's controversial stumping of Jonny Bairstow on day five of England's eventual second Test defeat at the start of July caused a furious reaction from the crowd at the usually reserved Lord's.

That preceded an altercation between Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) members and Australia's players at the lunch break in which Usman Khawaja and David Warner were confronted in the Long Room.

Three MCC members were suspended as a result, and while Gower embraces the rivalry between England and Australia, he also feels there is a line that was crossed in the recent series.

"The rivalry should be on the field," Gower told Stats Perform. "The rivalry should be contained on the field, where you give 100 per cent.

"Each and every man gives 100 per cent each and every day. You bowl your bouncers, hit fours, your sixes, you take people on, there's a bit of banter. That's fine. That's where it should be contained.

"Obviously, in an Ashes series for many years now we've seen both Down Under in Australia and in England now, the fans are very partisan.

"That incident at Lords was ugly, and I'm afraid to say that those members of the MCC in the pavilion at Lord's were horribly out of order."

Gower defended Carey's actions, saying: "For the record, I have no problem with what Alex Carey did.

"I just thought Jonny Bairstow was careless, made an assumption he shouldn't have made. And it could have easily been avoided if Jonny just looked behind him and put his bat down. Not out, carry on with the game. And then England actually might still have had a chance of winning that game."

Gower also believes fans should move on from the 2018 ball-tampering scandal for which Warner and then-captain Steve Smith received 12-month suspensions, with chanting referencing the incident audible during the 2023 series.

"This whole thing, I find it actually quite distasteful to be honest," Gower added.

"Yes, some years ago, they did use sandpaper. [But] they've done everything possible to get over it. They've tried ever so hard to be nice, while still not losing that competitive edge."

The dust has settled on Saturday’s remaining two quarter-finals and attention is now turning to the last four.

Spain, Sweden, England and Australia are the four remaining teams, meaning there will be a new name on the trophy in next Sunday’s final.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the day Down Under.

Bronze says England are ready for gold

Defender Lucy Bronze revealed England would have failed to live up to their own expectations had they not reached the World Cup semi-finals.

The Lionnesses saw off Colombia in Saturday’s quarter-final to set up Wednesday’s last-four meeting with co-hosts Australia.

Third place would see England equal their best-ever finish from eight years ago in Canada, but Bronze insisted reaching this stage for the third time in the European champions’ history was the bare minimum.

“If we hadn’t have got to the semi-final, I would have said that we would have underperformed,” said Bronze.

“A lot of people said that England were the team that were going to flop a little bit. Our performances haven’t been our best, granted, but the results have been there and we’ve got to the semi-final, which is what this England team is known for doing.

“I think the difference with this team is we have won trophies, we have won tournaments, so we do know what to do.”

Quote of the dayIlestedt laughs off Golden Boot talk

Sweden defender Amanda Ilestedt took her tally to four goals when she scored in the quarter-final win over Japan.

It took her just one behind current leader Hinata Miyazawa, who is no longer in the tournament, so she has a real chance of claiming the Golden Boot. Not bad for a centre-half.

She has downplayed her chances of finishing as top scorer, though, and just wants her team to do well.

She said on FIFA’s website: “I don’t know. I can’t even believe I’m even talking about this. I’m a defender.

“I find it funny. But as long as the team keep winning, I’m happy. It doesn’t matter who scores.”

Picture of the dayPost of the dayWhat’s next?

Semi-final: Spain v Sweden, Auckland, Tuesday 10am
Semi-final: Australia v England, Sydney, Wednesday 11am

England advanced to the World Cup semi-finals with a 2-1 comeback victory over Colombia, and will play tournament co-hosts Australia in Sydney on Wednesday night.

Here, the PA news agency breaks down some of the key questions ahead of The Lionesses’ meeting with the Matildas.

How did they get here?

England secured victories over Haiti, Denmark and China to reach the knockouts, scoring multiple times in a group stage contest just once with a 6-1 triumph over China.

The Lionesses next faced Nigeria in the last-16, who held them to 120 goalless minutes before England booked their quarter-final place with a 4-2 win on penalties.

England conceded for just the second time this tournament late in the first half of the quarter-final clash with Colombia at Sydney’s sold-out Stadium Australia, but they were level by the break thanks to Lauren Hemp’s alert stoppage-time effort and Alessia Russo completed the comeback after the  break.

What is England’s history in World Cup semi-finals?

The Lionesses’ first appearance in the final four, eight years ago in Canada, ended in heartbreak.

England were up against defending champions Japan, who took the lead through captain Aya Miyama’s 32nd-minute opener but saw it cancelled out by Fara Williams after just seven minutes.

The 1-1 draw looked destined for extra time until Laura Bassett directed a clearance into her own net in the first minute of second-half stoppage time and broke down in tears while Japan celebrated their last-gasp luck.

England ultimately beat Germany 1-0 through Williams’ extra-time penalty in the third-place playoff – still their best-ever finish in a global showpiece.

Four years later, the Lionesses beat Norway 3-0 in the last eight in France to set up a semi-final with the United States, who beat England 2-1 en route to defending their 2015 title.

The Lionesses finished fourth overall after losing 2-1 to Sweden in the play-off.

How good are Australia?

The Matildas are 10th in FIFA’s global rankings, six places below England, but can boast they are the only team to have beaten the Lionesses since boss Sarina Wiegman took the helm in September 2021.

That victory came in April, when Sam Kerr and Charlotte Grant both scored at Brentford to snap Wiegman’s 30-game unbeaten streak as England manager with a 2-0 victory.

Captain Kerr was unavailable for her side’s first two World Cup matches with a calf injury, yet the talismanic Chelsea striker’s absence might have actually benefitted the Matildas in the long run as others were asked to step up, with Hayley Raso and Mary Fowler among those who emphatically answered the call for the co-hosts.

Kerr returned as a late second-half substitute in her side’s 2-0 victory over Denmark in the last 16, five days before the Matildas sealed their first-ever trip to a semi-final by beating France in the longest penalty shootout in Women’s World Cup history.

Long gone are the days Australians feared their side could be knocked out at the group stage. Momentum – and an increasingly enraptured nation – are firmly on their side.

What is the biggest challenge facing England?

England will have to cope without star forward Lauren James as she serves the final game of a two-match suspension for stepping on the back of Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie.

She was replaced by Ella Toone against Colombia, who after the match said: “She’s been amazing for us, but I’ve got to believe in myself and I’ve got to have that confidence going onto the pitch. I don’t let anything get me down, I don’t put that pressure on myself and I know my team-mates don’t either.”

How will England cope with the crowd?

Stadium Australia boasts more than 75,000 seats, most of which will be occupied by the home support.

That does not faze England captain Millie Bright, who said: “For me, no matter who the fans are, you’re actually quite proud of it as well, we want that in a World Cup, we want it to be people turning on the TV and saying ‘god, look at the crowd, it’s incredible’.

“As a player you feel that and you use it to your advantage as well, it’s not a disadvantage that there might be a lot of Australia fans there. “

England hit back from a goal down to defeat Colombia and book an appetising World Cup semi-final showdown against co-hosts Australia next week.

The Matildas were earlier tested to their limit but they kept their bid for success on home soil alive following a nail-biting penalty shoot-out triumph over France.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look back on the day as the last four line-up was confirmed.

Lionesses roar

The absence of the suspended Lauren James might have come back to bite England, who fell behind after 44 minutes when Leicy Santos looped an effort over Mary Earps at a sold-out Stadium Australia in Sydney.

However, England capitalised on a major slice of fortune to equalise before half-time as Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Perez inexplicably failed to gather a loose ball and Lauren Hemp pounced to stab home six minutes into added-on time.

Georgia Stanway set up Alessia Russo’s low finish to hand the Lionesses the lead after 63 minutes and, while Colombia pushed forward against the European champions, an equaliser proved elusive.

Matildas squeak through

Both Australia and France had their opportunities over the regulation 90 minutes and additional half-hour but neither side was able to make the breakthrough in a goalless draw at Brisbane’s Lang Park.

The drama went up a few notches in an absorbing shootout, with Australia’s Mackenzie Arnold making four saves, including twice from Kenza Dali after being off her line before saving the retaken spot-kick.

Cortnee Vine then secured a 7-6 triumph – slotting home the winning penalty after France’s Vicki Becho saw her effort hit a post – as Australia moved into the World Cup semis for the first time.

Post of the dayQuote of the day

Hemp admitted on ITV that England’s exertions had taken its toll on the team.

What’s next?

Semi-final: Spain v Sweden, Auckland, Tuesday 10am

Semi-final: Australia v England, Sydney, Wednesday 11am

Sarina Wiegman admits she was unaware of just how big the rivalry is between England and Australia after Alessia Russo’s winner against Colombia sealed a 2-1 win and set up a World Cup semi-final with the co-hosts.

The Lionesses fell behind after 44 minutes of their last-eight contest in Sydney when Leicy Santos looped the ball over England keeper Mary Earps, but saw her effort cancelled out before the break when Lauren Hemp pounced on an error from Colombian keeper Catalina Perez in stoppage time.

Russo completed the comeback with a fine low finish from Georgia Stanway’s delivery, the 2-1 result enough to book England a third trip to a World Cup final four – an encounter that has already drawn comparisons to the Ashes.

Asked if she was aware of the perennial rivalry between the two countries, England’s Dutch boss replied: “I just think it is going to be really big, but I’ve had a couple of questions about that now so it’s probably going to be bigger than I imagined now.

“So I’ll talk to my players and staff and see what that rivalry is then. I think the Australians and English can get along really well, and we’ve had such a warm welcome here, we’ve really enjoyed our time here in Australia, and I actually really like the people here.

“But that doesn’t mean there’s no rivalry, so we’ll see that Wednesday.”

In April, Australia became the only side to have beaten England under Wiegman’s now nearly two-year tenure, when goals from Sam Kerr and Charlotte Grant fired the Matildas to a 2-0 victory at Brentford.

This has so far been a tournament of fine margins for the Lionesses, who outside of their 6-1 victory over China in the group stage have enjoyed dominant spells but never matches, and on Saturday night in Sydney were up against a Colombia side whose supporters turned the 75,000-plus seat Stadium Australia into an away contest for England.

Bethany England, who came on as a substitute for the third time this tournament, believes the raucous Colombia crowd is the perfect dress rehearsal for Wednesday’s semi-final against the co-hosts, who beat France 7-6 on penalties to advance to the final four for the first time.

Though that match took place in Brisbane, thousands of Matildas fans packed the parks outside Stadium Australia before England’s match, some even climbing trees to get a better view of their own quarter-final and the deciding shoot-out.

England said: “I think the atmosphere is going to be amazing. I thought the crowd tonight was incredible. Every time we touched the ball they were booing but I think you just relish it because these are the atmosphere you want from stadiums. 75,000 and the Australian fans are going to bring a nice big bit of noise through. It’s going to be interesting and entertaining for everyone.

“We’ve been in this situation where we’ve had a lot of noise. The Euros last year at Old Trafford, Wembley. It’s nothing these girls aren’t used to now. We are getting in more and more in the women’s game. Selling out, getting big crowds and not being able to think. So it’s just going to be an exciting game and a special one.”

Alessia Russo praised England for “keeping the dream alive” as they reached the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Lauren Hemp cancelled out Leicy Santos’ strike for Colombia before Russo scored the winner in a 2-1 win.

The Lionesses now face co-hosts Australia on Wednesday in the last four and Arsenal forward Russo was full of praise for her side’s performance.

She told ITV: “I’m buzzing, the semi-final of a World Cup, we’re keeping the dream alive.

“I’m buzzing, obviously Colombia are a top team and I think they’ve shown more than that this World Cup. It was a really tough test, but so happy to get three points and be in the semis.

“We’ve had to dig deep from the first game and that’s what it’s like, they have so many talented players who can cause you trouble within a second.

“But I thought our back line were brilliant tonight, we kept it locked down, won and now we’re in the semis.”

Hemp echoed her sentiments, saying the team were “really special” against Colombia.

“What an amazing feeling. I’m absolutely knackered right now, most of the team are,” Hemp told ITV.

“We put in a great performance. I think you saw the resilience in the squad and I’m so proud of this team.

“I thought we controlled most of the game to be honest, they had a few counter-attacks and we knew what they were going to bring and I felt we dealt with it quite well.

“Whenever we got the ball it looked like we were going to create something, I think the team were really special toady and long may that continue.”

However, Russo insists there is still plenty to work on ahead of the semi-final.

She said: “What makes this team great is we’re always trying to find ways to improve even after we’ve reached the semis. We’ve got lots to work on. We’ve got to get recovered, rested and go again.”

The Arsenal forward is relishing the chance to face Australia.

“It’s exciting, what more do you want?” Russo said.

“You want to play against the best teams and obviously they’re the hosts. I think Colombia had a great fanbase out tonight, so we’ve had a little taste, but I’m so excited.”

Hemp added: “I’m buzzing, it’s where you want to be. I want to play on the world’s biggest stages and obviously we’re here right now in the semi-final, I’m over the moon and can’t wait.

“The atmosphere here was incredible, it’s going to be incredible again, but sometimes that’s when you thrive and we thrived again tonight, so hopefully we’ll do the same again.”

Australia will make a late call on captain Sam Kerr’s fitness for their Women’s World Cup showdown with France.

Chelsea striker Kerr missed the group stage with a calf injury but came off the bench for the final 10 minutes in the round-of-16 victory over Denmark.

Australia boss Tony Gustavsson must now decide whether Kerr is fit to start Saturday’s quarter-final date with Les Bleues at Brisbane Stadium.

“If Sam is fit to play 90 minutes, she is starting,” Gustavsson said at his pre-match press conference.

“That’s not even a question, and the team knows it.

“I definitely would never, ever see Sam as a disturbance to the team. We’re talking about Sam Kerr.

“Whether she is ready to play 90 minutes plus extra time, that’s to be decided tonight.”

Australia have coped well without all-time top scorer Kerr, scoring six goals in their past two matches – following up a 4-0 win over Canada in their final group game with a 2-0 success against Denmark.

It has been an impressive response to the shock 3-2 defeat by Nigeria that threatened their participation in the knockout stages of a home tournament.

“I look at all the preparation we’ve done over the last few weeks but being ready doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy,” said former United States assistant coach Gustavsson.

“I had the privilege to be in five quarter-finals before this one in three Olympics and two World Cups and you get unhealthily addicted to these types of games.

“This is what you love, this is what you want. I am so happy that the players will get this experience and we will embrace every second of it.”

France, ranked fifth in the world and five places above Australia, have scored 12 goals in three games since opening with a goalless draw against Jamaica.

Brazil (2-1) and Panama (6-3) were beaten in the group stage before Morocco were brushed aside 4-0 in the last 16.

Gustavsson said: “They have proved over this tournament that they have extreme attacking threats: central, left and right.

“They attack with numbers and are brave, technical and fast.

“The one thing they have instilled in this tournament is the work ethic when they lose the ball.

“They are extremely aggressive when they lose the ball, so you get very little time when you win it.

“That’s probably the extra they have over us and that’s going to be the number one challenge to sort.

“But what we have proven is that our defensive structure and defensive work rate has been enormous – we have kept five clean sheets in our last six games – and we have also been very composed in front of goal.

“Once we do break that pressure we know how fast we can attack and one moment can decide the game.”

Shaquane Gordon won Jamaica’s second gold medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games and in the process clocked one of four records that fell on day five action, as he proved too good for competitors in the men’s 110 metres hurdles at the Hasley Crawford Stadium in Trinidad and Tobago.

The outstanding Gordon raced to 13.16s, which lowered the previous mark of 13.32s set by Australia’s Andries Van der Merwe in 2011. Noah Hanson (13.20s) of England was second, with another Jamaican Daniel Wright (13.45s), third.

Wright had earlier topped the men’s 400m hurdles in 51.51s, ahead of Sri Lanka’s Liyanage (51.61s) and Oliver Parker (52.36s) of England

In the women’s 100m hurdles, Jamaica’s Bryanna Davidson (13.94s) missed the podium, placing fourth behind Australia’s Delta Amidzovski (13.25s), who won ahead of Thea Brown of England and South Africa’s Tumi Hope Ramokgopa, who both clocked in at 13.53s.

England’s Ayesha Jones launched the javelin to a new Commonwealth Youth Games record of 52.49m to win the event, as she bettered the 19-year-old mark of 51.99m set by Australia’s Annabel Thomson in 2004.

Jones won ahead of compatriot Harriet Wheeler (51.50m), while South Africa’s Lo-Ann Engelbrecht (50.12m) was third. Caribbean athletes Suerena Alexander (42.85m) of Grenada and St Lucia’s Naya Jules (38.60m) were fifth and sixth.

Another Commonwealth Youth Games record and, by extension, one-two finish, went to England, courtesy of Stephanie Okoro and Mia Walker in the women’s 400m hurdles final.

Okoro finished tops in a record 58.19s, erasing the old mark of 59.40s set by Jamaica’s Jhonelle Thomas in 2017.  Walker (1:00.52) ensured the England quinella, as she held of South Africa’s Hope Ramokgopa (1:00.63).

Trinidad and Tobago’s Keneisha Shelbourne (1:04.28), finished fifth.

Jaidi James added silver to Trinidad and Tobago’s tally when he cleared 2.00m in the men’s high jump final. Carey Glyde of England won the event after her soared to 2.06m, while Sri Lanka’s Thenuja Rathnaweera, who also cleared 2.00m, was third on the count back.

In Para athletics action, England’s Maddie Down, cut the sand at 4.70m to win the women’s T-38 long jump final. She bettered the Australia pair of Niamh Mac Alasdair (4.09m) and Reese Prior (3.73m).

Action at the National Aquatic Centre was highlighted by a Caribbean sweep in the men’s 50m freestyle where homeboy Nikoli Blackman continued his rich vein of form.

Blackman, who started the twin island republic's medal haul on the opening day, ended in the same vein, as he copped another gold in 22.36s, ahead of Marvin Johnson Jr (22.54s) of Bahamas and another local favourite Zarek Wilson (22.95s), who added another bronze to his tally.

The women’s event was won by England’s Skye Carter in a Junior Commonwealth Games Record of 25.15s, which bettered previous mark of 25.19s, set by Australia’s Ami Matsuo in 2011.  Theodora Taylor (25.54s) of Wales and Australia’s Inez Miller (25.59s), took silver and bronze.

In the men’s 200m butterfly final, Malaysia’s Li Hen Goh (2:03.63) outclassed rivals to win ahead of Reuben Rowbotham-Keating (2:03.84) of England and South Africa’s Dylan Eaton (2:06.07). Nigel Forbes (2:06.11) of Bahamas, just missed the podium in fourth, while Antigua and Barbuda’s Ethan Stubbs-Green (2:07.50), placed sixth.

There was an Australia one-two finish in the women’s event, where Mikayla Bird (2:12.66), finished ahead of Poppy Stephen (2:13.34) and England’s Ashleigh Baillie (2:16.74). Sierrah Broadbelt of Cayman Islands placed seventh in 2:23.45.

Earlier, Harper Barrowman of Cayman Islands, clocked 9:11.72 to secure bronze in the women’s 800m freestyle timed final. Hannah Erin Allen of Australia won the event in 8:48.66, ahead of New Zealand’s Hanna Adbou, who touched in 9:10.56.

Allen’s time was just shy of the Junior Games Record of 8:45.90 held by England’s Ariarne Darwent since 2015.

Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and the Grenadines, the two lone Caribbean nations in the Fast5 Netball competition at Shaw Park Complex, both failed to make the medal round, finishing seventh and eighth, after going down 11-15 and 11-25 to Botswana and Canada, respectively.

Australia, England, South Africa and Scotland, are set to decide the medals.

At the end of day five, Trinidad and Tobago remained the top Caribbean Island with 11 medals in fifth on the medal standings, behind Australia (48), England (39), Scotland (20) and South Africa (17).

Cayman Islands is 10th with six medals, Jamaica 11th with four –based on quality –Guyana (three) 13th, Bahamas (four) 16th, Barbados and St Lucia, joint 21st, with two each and Grenada 25th, with a solitary bronze medal.

The curtains will come down on the Games on Thursday.

England are among eight nations still standing at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as preparations continue for their respective quarter-finals.

The last-eight fixtures begin on Friday when Spain play the Netherlands and Japan take on Sweden, while the Lionesses face Colombia after co-hosts Australia and France clash on Saturday.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at the first of two fixture-free days Down Under before the action resumes.

We’re not happy – Bronze

Lucy Bronze admitted England “are not happy” with their World Cup displays, but vowed the Lionesses will step up on Saturday against Colombia.

The European champions rode their luck to beat Nigeria in the last 16 on penalties and will be without Lauren James, who will serve at minimum a one-game ban after her dismissal on Monday.

Barcelona defender Bronze said: “We’ve built on every game, we’ve taken something from every game, whether that was the Haiti game that was physical, the Denmark game when we lost our key player in Keira (Walsh), the China game we changed the formation completely, (Monday) we had a red card.

“Everything that has been thrown at us, we’ve dealt with and moved forward. I don’t see many other teams who’ve had that adversity and if they had, I don’t think they’ve managed to overcome the way we have. At the same time, we are not happy with our performances.”

Matildas prodigy tipped for top

Australia’s Cortnee Vine says there is no limit to what team-mate Mary Fowler can achieve in the game and insisted she has not been surprised by the 20-year-old Manchester City forward’s stellar contribution.

Vine said: “She can just be amazing. I said to her before this tournament began that she’s going to have a fantastic tournament. She just has so much more to go and she’s still so young, I think we forget sometimes.

“She’s so mature and knows what she wants and is her own individual kind of person and when she gets on that field, you just see something special.

“I just think she’s going to keep growing from that. I can’t wait to see Mary keep going because she’s just killing it at the moment.”

Swedes wary of Japanese threat

Sweden pair Fridolina Rolfo and Zecira Musovic believe quarter-final opponents Japan have been one of the best sides in the tournament so far.

Japan edged closer to a second World Cup triumph on Saturday by beating Norway 3-1 in the last 16, having cruised through their group without dropping a point or conceding a goal.

Barcelona forward Rolfo said: “They have been great, I have to say that. They have been one of the best teams so far in the tournament. So we need to analyse them really well and need to have a good match plan.”

Chelsea goalkeeper Musovic added: “We know it will require a lot of hard work. I think Japan is maybe the most exciting and maybe the team who has impressed me the most so far.”

Post of the dayQuote of the dayWhat’s next?

Quarter-final: Spain v Netherlands, Wellington, Friday 2am.

Quarter-final: Japan v Sweden, Auckland, Friday 8.30am.

It was a day of mixed fortunes for Caribbean nations on day four of the Commonwealth Youth Games, with most of their medal successes coming in the swimming pool at the National Aquatic Centre and on the track in Trinidad and Tobago, on Tuesday.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Zarek Wilson, was the highlight of the top performers from the region, as he added the men’s 100m butterfly gold to his 50m backstroke bronze. when he topped a quality field to win in a Junior Games Record of 53.70s. He bettered England’s Nick Finch (53.95s) and South Africa’s Dylan Eaton (54.41s).

Australia’s Mikayla Bird led an Oceanic sweep of the women’s 100m butterfly, as she won in 1:00.15, ahead of compatriot Lillie McPherson (1:00.80) and Amelia Bray (1:01.32) of New Zealand.

Heidi Stoute of Barbados won bronze in the women’s 400m freestyle after she stopped the clock in 4:25.61, behind the Australian pair of Inez Miller (4:14.97) and Erin Allen (4:18.72).

Tyler Melbourne-Smith of Wales proved too good for rivals in the men’s 400m freestyle, as he stopped the clock in 3:54.19, just staving off the challenge of England’s Reece Grady (3:54.74), with another Englishman Harry Wynne-Jones (3:56.29), taking third.

In athletics at Hasley Crawford Stadium, Tianna Springer (53.55s) and Narissa McPherson (54.82s) secured two medals for Guyana when they finished first and third in the women’s 400m final, separated by England’s Charlotte Henrich (53.65s).

Another Guyanese, Malachi Austin, placed second in the men’s 400m in 47.97s, behind Nigeria’s Samuel Ogazi (46.99s), while Alexander Beck (48.20s) of England, won bronze.

Dominica’s Godisha Joseph, placed seventh in the women’s discus throw final with a mark of 32.22 metres, while Trinidad and Tobago’s Ruth Irvine finished down the pack after failing to register a mark.

The event was won by South Africa’s Eli Khunou, who launched the instrument to 49.53m, ahead of Chelsy Wayne (49.39m) of Australia and Cyprus’s Rafaella Aristotelous (42.74m).

Andrew Stone of Cayman Islands topped the men’s long jump, after cutting that sand at 7.70m to win ahead of Temoso Masikane (7.51m) of South Africa.

Teon Haynes of Barbados (7.32m) took bronze, while the Trinidad and Tobago pair of Andrew Steele (7.16m) and Imanni Matthew (7.14m), were fourth and fifth respectively. Another Bajan, Aaron Massiah (6.63m) was 10th.

Guyana’s Attoya Harvey paced 11th in the women’s 1,500m final in 4:45.10, as the Kenyan pair of Nancy Cherop (4:12.28) and Janet Chepkemoi (4:14.24) secured a one-two finish, with England’s Lyla Belshaw (4:16.37), in third.

There was also a Kenya quinella in the men’s 1,500m event courtesy of Jospat Sang Kipkirui (3:37.66) and Andrew Kiptoo Alamisi (3:38.12), as Uganda’s Jacob Sande (3:39.69) took bronze.

Kipkirui’s time was also a new Commonwealth Youth Games record, as it was below the 3:39.80 set by another Kenyan Kumari Taki set in 2015.

South Africa’s Johann Lamberts finished tops in the men’s shot put when he achieved a new Commonwealth Youth Games record of 20.17m, erasing Jamaica’s Kevin Nedrick’s old mark of 20.12m. Robert Deal III (15.99m) of Bahamas and St Lucia’s Denzel Phillips (15.75m), were second and third respectively.

The Para men’s discus F42-44/F61-64 final, was won by South Africa’s Daniel Molobela, who achieved a mark of 26.34m, ahead of Kenya’s Titus Mwonga (20.00m), with Grenada’s Tyler Smith (18.85m) in third.

After earlier going down 22-14 to Trinidad and Tobago in the group stages of the men’s Rugby sevens tournament, Jamaica turned the tables on their Caribbean neighbours with a 12-5 win in the fifth-place playoff.

Scotland topped the men’s competition with a narrow 25-20 win over Fiji, while South Africa claimed bronze with a comprehensive 52-0 beating of Canada.

Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago’s women also played sixth after losing their fifth-place contest to Wales, who were dominant in a 50-0 victory.

Australia topped the podium after hammering Canada 50-0 in the gold medal game, with Fiji outlasting Kenya 22-10 in the bronze medal contest.

Earlier in triathlon at the Buccoo Beach Facility, Barbados placed fifth in the mixed team super sprint distance. They stopped the clock in 43 minutes and 24 seconds, over two minutes slower than winner Australia, who completed the event in 40 minutes and 58 seconds.

Scotland, who clocked 41 minutes and 23 seconds took silver ahead of Jersey (41 minutes and 37 seconds), a British Crown Dependency situated near the coast of North-West France.

With their accomplishments, the twin-island republic is the highest ranked Caribbean Island on the medal table, as they sit fourth with three gold and one silver. England heads the standing with 19 medals, followed by Scotland with nine, based on quality, while Australia with 15, sits third.

Cayman Islands, the next best Caribbean nation, occupies joint seventh with South Africa on five medals apiece.

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