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Women’s World Cup Daily: Australia beat France in epic shootout


The 2023 Women’s World Cup is in full swing, and these daily files give you the latest reporting from around the tournament as well as betting lines, what-to-watch-for information and best reads. Check in with ESPN throughout the tournament as we bring you the latest from Australia and New Zealand.

The lead: Australia eliminate France on penalties

SYDNEY — The 2023 World Cup will have one of its host nations in the semifinals after Australia survived a nerve-shredding penalty shootout against France to win their quarterfinal clash.

Stadium Australia was a yellow sea of home support as the Matildas prepared for their quarterfinal. But, to the dismay of the majority of the 49,461-strong crowd, it was Les Bleues who started stronger and saw a handful of early chances go begging.

The best chance for Australia came late in the first half when Hayley Raso chased down a long ball, causing enough panic for Emily van Egmond to slip it back into the danger area. With goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin out of the picture, Mary Fowler aimed for what she though was an open goal, only to be denied but a sublime flying block from Élisa De Almeida.

The match finally pulled in favour of the hosts with Sam Kerr‘s second-half introduction. With their captain on the pitch, Australia found their urgency in attack and saw their own flurry of chances created but not taken.

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Still scoreless after 90 minutes with the nerves settling over the stadium, the match moved into extra time. Wendie Renard‘s header at a corner was disallowed for her foul on Cailtin Foord before Courtnee Vine, fresh off of the bench, sent an effort the wrong side of the post as time ticked down to the inevitable with the hosts hanging on through a late French charge.

After the two sides were inseparable in 120 minutes of play, it was no surprise to see them remain locked in the penalty shootout with each goal, save and miss cancelled out.

Having been brought on right at the end of extra time to face Australia’s penalties, France’s third-choice goalkeeper Solène Durand proved her worth by making two saves as well as going the right way for a further five penalties she faced.

But it was Mackenzie Arnold who was the hero on the day, even after spurning the chance to win the shootout when her own spot kick hit the post. Arnold denied Selma Bacha, Eve Périsset and Kenza Dali twice, coming up trumps to deny the veteran a second time after a VAR intervention for the Matildas goalkeeper stepping off her line. After France’s Viki Becho hit the frame of the goal, Vine stepped up to convert the 20th penalty of the shootout and send the home crowd into delirium.

Australia can enjoy making history by reaching a World Cup semifinal for the first time, but they’ll be praying their finishing comes back in time for that game. — Sophie Lawson

Sights and sounds

Sweden’s show of respect

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — When the final whistle went at Eden Park on Friday, confirming Sweden‘s progress into the semifinals at the expense of Japan, the scenes on the pitch were starker than we’ve seen so far this tournament.

Of course, teams who’ve been knocked out have been upset, but the sheer outpouring of emotion from the young Japan squad was something we’ve rarely seen from Nadeshiko. Disconsolate on the pitch, most in blue walked through the mixed zone, fulfilling their postmatch media duty with tears still in their eyes.

It was there, in the underbelly of the stadium that Sweden’s Sofia Jakobsson, mid-interview, stopped to turn to Japan’s Jun Endo next to her and offered the 23-year-old some words of comfort, lauding the strength and quality of the team her had just eliminated.

Although the words may or may not have been of immediate comfort to the attacker, the defeat far too raw, it was another show of respect and regard for the opposition which have been familiar sights at this tournament. — Sophie Lawson



Sweden’s advance into the World Cup semifinals ‘came down to millimetres’

Sophie Lawson reacts to Sweden’s 2-1 win vs. Japan to get into the semifinals and compares it to round-of-16 game against USWNT.

Wenger to speak at women’s football convention

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Arsene Wenger will lead the speakers at FIFA’s two-day Women’s Football Convention in Sydney next week, with the former Arsenal manager, now FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, set to give a keynote address on the future of the game.

Wenger has sparked controversy in his FIFA role by calling for men’s World Cups to be held every two years within a radical plan to overhaul the football calendar. The 73-year-old is due to speak alongside Jill Ellis, the two-time World Cup winning coach with the USWNT, and Chelsea manager Emma Hayes. Former Arsenal and England forward Ian Wright is also slated to speak at the convention in a panel discussing the professionalisation of women’s football.

The convention is only the second staging of the event, which involves each one of FIFA’s member associations, and FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura says it is crucial to build on the momentum of World Cup 2023.

“We can already say with confidence that this tournament is a gamechanger for women’s football,” Samoura said. “The crowds, the atmosphere and the quality of football we have seen already has been exceptional. I look forward to reflecting on that success and taking another enormous step to building on it at the Second FIFA Women’s Football Convention on the 18-19 August.” — Mark Ogden

Amputee footballers shows their skills in Sydney

SYDNEY — Players from the World Amputee Football Federation (WAFF) and U.S. Amputee Football Federation were playing in Sydney this week on FIFA’s Unity Pitch at Barangaroo on Sydney Harbour.

The pitch has travelled to each of the nine host cities and the players showcased their skills there alongside attending two of the round of 16 matches.

“Amputee soccer has given me a new outlook on my ability, not my disability,” said LaQuinta Haynes, from Columbus, Ohio. “Playing football did offer me a lot of mental health too, because it gives me a way of looking at myself differently.”

Amie Donathan, who was one of only two female players at the Amputee Football World Cup last year, said: “A lot of people that have amputations or limb differences think that they can’t follow their dreams or do what they want to because they have this difference, but I think that amputee soccer gives that hope.

“I didn’t know any amputee or anybody like me before I played amputee soccer. So, it has just given me that different family. We all have a connection that not everyone can have and we just understand each other in a different way. The physical health benefits are definitely off the charts. You get a lot of lower body or upper body, you have to have a lot of stamina and the mental health benefits are also great because a lot of these people, including me, before we had amputee soccer, you just sometimes get down on yourself.”

There are more than 5,000 players participate as part of WAFF across 50 countries. Turkey are the reigning world champions after taking the the World Cup on home soil in Istanbul last year. — Tom Hamilton

World Cup brings big value to Australia

SYDNEY — The revenue of the World Cup for Australia and its regions so far has reached massive heights already, according to data gathered by financial platform Airwallex.

The value of the competition to Queensland’s and Brisbane’s tourism sector has been projected as more than AUS$50million but, in terms of overall spending the figure stands at an eye-watering AUS$7.6 billion nationally and $1.55bn alone for the Sunshine State. This is the amount spent on retail, hospitality and commercial by locals as well as travellers and visitors in relation to the World Cup.

The other states to have benefitted the most are New South Wales (AUS$2.98bn) and Victoria (AUS$2.3bn.)

FIFA estimates that 20% of the tickets for the 2023 Women’s World Cup were sold to international fans, sparking a major influx of visitors and spending. — Julien Laurens

News of the day

  • Former USWNT star Sydney Leroux took a not-so-subtle jibe at Netherlands forward Lineth Beerensteyn following the Dutch team’s quarterfinal loss to Spain on Friday. Why? It first started with Beerensteyn’s blunt reaction earlier this week over the USWNT’s shocking elimination — “From the start of the tournament, [the U.S.] had really big mouths and were already talking about the final.” And then after Netherlands loss to Spain, Leroux kindly reminded Beerensteyn via a tweet: “One thing we’ve learned is wait to talk s— until after you’re on the podium with a gold medal because now … you’re bye too.”

  • England star Alessia Russo said she has been getting advice from David Beckham on how to navigate the turbulent nature of World Cups. Russo is playing in her first World Cup and spent time with Beckham before the tournament when the former England captain interviewed her for a TV programme in the UK, and they have since kept in contact. “He has been one of my idols ever since I was a little girl,” Russo said. “It is one of my biggest highlights off the pitch to sit and have a normal conversation with someone who you would watch on the world stage when you were a young girl. It was amazing. He was really nice. It was a pinch-me moment in terms of what women’s sport nowadays has done.”

Features of the day

Sweden’s tactics, spirit push them into World Cup semifinal
Sweden executed a perfect game plan to eliminate Japan and advance to the semifinals, but this team is as much about the off-field vibes as it is the on-field tactics.

Spain, Vilda show resilience to seal World Cup progress
With a win over Netherlands, Spain are through to the World Cup semifinals for the first time and they had to overcome rumbles on and off the pitch.

After a stellar showing, perhaps 2023 just was not Japan’s time yet
For the first week, few could argue that Japan wasn’t on a course for the final. But the dream run has ended in the quarterfinals and perhaps it just wasn’t time yet.

And finally …

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Just as Australia were preparing to kick off their quarterfinal against France in Brisbane, they were pulling down the World Cup banners and flags in Wellington, the capital city of co-host New Zealand.

Some would argue that the World Cup party never quite got going in New Zealand — it has certainly lacked the buzz and anticipation of Australia. But it was an odd sight to see one local official lowering the flags and World Cup paraphernalia outside Wellington Station, despite Auckland still scheduled to host the semifinal between Sweden and Spain on Tuesday.

Make no mistake, New Zealand is indisputably a rugby union country — you can’t go far without seeing some reference to the All Blacks — but over 30,000 fans turned out to watch Spain beat the Netherlands in Wellington on Friday and the bars on the city’s waterfront were noisy enough during the Sweden versus Japan game later in the day.

But the lowering of the World Cup flags said a lot about the impact of the tournament on this side of the Tasman Sea. New Zealand were knocked out at the group stage and the momentum enjoyed by Australia just hasn’t been seen here. — Mark Ogden

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