England could become only the second team to simultaneously hold both the Women’s Euros and the Women’s World Cup when it faces Spain in the final of the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Sydney on Sunday.
Only the dominant German side from the early 2000s has been able to achieve this before. The winner of the final will also become only the third European team in history to win the World Cup.
Sarina Wiegman’s side entered the competition as one of the favourites and despite the setbacks to the other major contenders, the team fought through to reach the finals of the World Cup for the first time ever.
Let’s have a look at England’s road to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup final.
England was drawn into Group D at the 2023 Women’s World Cup along with Denmark, China and Haiti. It began its campaign with a tame 1-0 win over Haiti with Georgia Stanway’s 29th-minute penalty proving the difference between the two sides.
The second game against Denmark also ended in a similar scoreline with Lauren James’ scoring early, a 20-yard stunner in the sixth minute of the game.
After the lack of goals in its first two encounters, questions began to be asked of the forward line, but England responded with a 6-1 mauling of China in the final group game, with Lauren James scoring a double. Alessia Russo, Chloe Kelly, Lauren Hemp and Rachel Daly were the others on the scoresheet.
England topped Group D with a perfect record, scoring eight goals and conceding just one.
One of England’s toughest tests in the tournament came in the round-of-16 clash with Nigeria. The Super Falcons proved to be a resolute barrier for the Lionesses with the game finishing 0-0 after normal time.
Nigeria had more chances on goal than the match favourites but did not have as many shots on target. Lauren James’ red card in the 87th-minute for a stamp, made matters worse for England, but the players held their nerves in the penalty shootout and England eventually progressed 4-2 on penalties.
The Quarterfinal match with Colombia was pitted as the contest between the two rising stars of the tournament, Linda Caicedo and Lauren James. But with James facing a two-match ban following her dismissal in the previous stage, England was without its top scorer in the tournament.
The match was quite neck-and-neck with both teams having an almost equal number of chances. Colombia took the lead in the 44th minute with a Leicy Santos goal. Lauren Hemp bundled home an equaliser soon after and Alessia Russo cemented a place in the semifinal with a finish to the bottom left corner in the 63rd minute.
England faced hosts Australia in front of a vociferous home crowd at Stadium Australia in Sydney. Matildas’ captain Sam Kerr made her first start in the tournament and was the key threat going forward for Australia, ably supported by Mary Fowler and Caitlin Foord.
England began the game on a a stronger note as both sides traded quick attacks through ball transitions. Sam Kerr had the first great chance of the game, as she ran through on goal in a one-on-one situation but was thwarted by England keeper Mary Earps.
Ella Toone opened the scoring for the Lionesses with a sublime outside-the-boot finish from the edge of the box in the 36th minute. Sam Kerr equalised after the break with a goal-of-the-tournament contender from outside the box.
Lauren Hemp scored in the 71st minute after a mistake from Matildas defender Ellie Carpenter and Alessia Russo put the result beyond doubt in the 86th minute.
England faces European counterpart Spain in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup final to be held on 20 August 2023 at Stadium Australia in Sydney. The match will see the return of Lauren James from suspension and will be coach Sarina Wiegman’s second consecutive Women’s World Cup final.
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