Alessia Russo hits winner as England fight back to beat Colombia

Lionesses set up tantalising Women's World Cup semi-final against co-hosts Australia

England's Alessia Russo celebrates scoring her side's winner against Colombia. AP
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Alessia Russo fired England through to a Women's World Cup semi-final after a 2-1 comeback win over Colombia at Stadium Australia in Sydney on Saturday.

Leicy Santos gave Colombia the lead with a looping first-half effort but England hit straight back when Lauren Hemp jumped on a mistake from keeper Catalina Perez. Russo then collected Georgia Stanway's pass to rifle home the winner on 63 minutes.

Colombia pushed hard for an equaliser but the European champions stood firm, with Mary Earps excellent in goal for the Lionesses. Sarina Wiegman's side will now face co-hosts Australia on Wednesday (2pm UAE time) for a place in the final.

Wiegman said: "It was a very tough challenge but we didn't expect anything else. We showed resilience, in the first half we played very good. In moments we were sloppy on the ball and they were really dangerous on the counter.

"We conceded but we came back. I actually thought their keeper had the ball for our goal. Second half we pushed, we found a way to keep that score and win the final duels. I just hoped we would have finished the game off sooner because we could have.

"We know they are dangerous but again I am so proud of the team, we find a way to score to win the duels. If we had kept the ball a bit better, we could have won it a little earlier."

Hemp, who put in an incredible shift up front for England, said the result spoke volumes about the team's character and insisted they were ready to take on the Matildas.

"We are all feeling really confident, Australia, bring it on. I'm absolutely over the moon, I can't wait," said Hemp.

"The atmosphere here was incredible, it's going to be incredible again. That's when you thrive, I feel like we will thrive once again."

Colombia, who had eliminated world number two side Germany with a 2-1 victory in the group stage, looked to complete another giant-killing here.

Linda Caicedo, the 18-year-old Real Madrid forward, was a constant menace and she was just off target with an early effort.

The Lionesses continued to find themselves tested by the pacy Colombians and they 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 head.

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.

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 Russo, who made it 2-1 as she outsmarted her marker and finished into the bottom left corner.

England’s lead never seemed safe as Colombia fought through eight minutes of stoppage time, including efforts from substitute Ivonne Chacon, Manuela Vanegas and Caicedo, who fired wide of the England goal with her side’s last chance of the game.

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

Updated: August 12, 2023, 1:43 PM