England 2-1 Colombia: the lioness ready for semi-final

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Alessia Russo helped England through to their third World Cup semi-final with a second half strike to finish a 2-1 rebound over Colombia at a sold-out Stadium Australia.

Leicy Santos gave Colombia the lead when she looped a work over Mary Earps after 44 minutes, however saw her opener offset after Lauren Hemp jumped on a mistake by Colombian keeper Catalina Perez six minutes into first half stoppage time.

Georgia Stanway set up Russo’s low completion to hand the Lionesses the lead after 63 minutes, and keeping in mind that Colombia pushed forward against the European champion a balancer at last proved barely too far.

England will next confront competition co-hosts Australia, who beat France 7-6 on penalties in the early kick-off.

Colombia, who beat world number two Germany with a 2-1 victory in the group stage, hoped to finish another monster killing here.

The Lionesses, meanwhile, were without the services of Lauren James, with Ella Toone coming into Sarina Wiegman’s side while the Chelsea forward served the first game of her two-match suspension.

Though China had benefited from strong support during England’s final group stage contest, it was nothing compared to the deafening noise that emerged from the stands as the Colombian anthem began to play.

Earps caught Catalina Usme’s cross before England came up empty-handed after a flurry of early attempts, beginning with Russo’s header from six yards out, before Perez stuck her leg out to prevent Hemp from netting an early opener.

Russo saw another close-range effort blocked, and soon after, Colombia were dealt a blow when defender Carolina Arias was forced off with injury and replaced by Ana Guzman.

Linda Caicedo, the 18-year-old Real Madrid forward viewed as one of Las Cafeteras’ most potent weapons in this tournament, outpaced Jess Carter down the left but sent her effort sailing over the woodwork.

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England twice appealed to American referee Ekaterina Koroleva after Guzman clattered into first Hemp, then Rachel Daly, who soon came close from Stanway’s delivery into the penalty area but nodded straight into the arms of the awaiting Perez.

The Lionesses continued to find themselves tested by the pacy Colombians, who dispossessed England after Hemp broke free down the right and tried to pick out Toone.

Captain Millie Bright, who had already made an excellent nodded clearance to block Manuela Vanegas, anchored a composed back line that, against Nigeria, had survived 120 minutes of a goalless draw, 30 of them shorthanded following James’ dismissal.

Colombia broke the deadlock when Santos looped an effort from the right corner of the penalty area.

Earps leapt at full strength, but the ball sailed over her and just in between her fingertips and the crossbar for the 44th-minute opener as the Colombian support roared.

England ensured the celebration was cut short after the Colombian keeper fumbled what looked to be a simple stop and Hemp lunged forward, punishing Perez, who could not scramble her way back to her feet in time to prevent the equalizer and ensure all was square by the break.

Daly directed another header into Perez’s awaiting arms after the restart, which began with slightly less of the frenetic energy that characterised the first period.

It was Stanway who provided the pass that would see England take the lead for the first time in the contest, threading the ball into the area for the onrushing Russo, who made it 2-1 as she outsmarted her marker and finished into the bottom left corner.

Colombia were forced to swap keepers after Perez went down with an apparent head injury, but remained resolute in their search for an equaliser of their own.

Lorena Bedoya Durango soon found herself with a chance and fired dangerously from the middle at Earps, who gave an assured nod after she leapt to tip the Real Brasilia midfielder’s effort over the crossbar.

England’s lead never seemed safe as Colombia fought for their chances through eight minutes of stoppage time, including efforts from substitute Ivonne Chacon, Vanegas – whose stoppage-time effort made the difference against Germany – and Caicedo, who fired wide of the England goal with one of her side’s last chances to make more history.

The Lionesses, who have never made it to a World Cup final, are now just one win away from reaching the showpiece.

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