Sarina Wiegman said she felt like she was “living a fairy tale” after her side ended English football’s 57-year wait for a World Cup final appearance by beating the co-hosts Australia 3-1 on a historic night in Sydney.
In the process, Dutchwoman Wiegman reached her fourth consecutive major final as a coach, after winning the 2017’s European Championships with the Netherlands, taking the Dutch to the 2019 World Cup final and lifting the 2022’s Euros with of the Lionesses. She also became the first coach to reach two Women’s World Cup finals with two different countries.
Speaking at his post-match press conference at Stadium Australia, the 53-year-old said: “I can’t describe how proud I am of the team, how this team is adapting all the time, before the tournament , during the tournament and this game, how we went through and found a way to win was amazing.”
Wiegman, who is yet to lose a competition in charge of England two years into his role, said immediately after the game that it felt “unbelievable” to get through, adding: “It’s like we won the whole thing but we won. ‘t. An away game in this amazing stadium, it was a tough game but again, we found a way to win.
Asked how it felt to be the first coach to lead two different countries in the showpiece that awaits England on Sunday, he replied: “I don’t know! It’s a special opportunity as a coach to reach two finals, we’re down to four – it’s like I’m living in a fairy tale or something?!”
For more from Serena Wiegman’s post-match press conference, go here.
What and when is it?
The World Cup final is the single biggest fixture in women’s international football. The tournament is guaranteed to have a new winner this year with either Spain or England both looking to lift the trophy for the first time.
The final is on Sunday August 20, with play kicking off at 11am UK (8pm Sydney local time).
Where is the game played?
The final will be played at Stadium Australia in Sydney.
How to see
The final will be shown on BBC One and ITV1.
The broadcasting rights for the Women’s World Cup are shared between the BBC and ITV. ITV broadcast England’s quarter-final win but the BBC has the rights to broadcast both semi-finals.
How did the teams reach the final?
Lauren Hemp’s second-half strike helped send England into their first World Cup final as the Lionesses sealed a 3-1 victory over co-hosts Australia.
Ella Toone, who replaced the suspended Lauren James for England’s quarter-final win over Colombia, scored 36 minutes into her second start of the tournament in front of a crowd of 75,784.
Sam Kerr, making his first start in the competition, equalized for the first-time semi-finalists with a stunning individual goal after the break before Hemp put England back in front.
Alessia Russo added another late in the second half to wrap up the historic encounter and set up an all-European final showdown against Spain.
England are now one win away from lifting two major trophies in just under 13 months following their triumph at last summer’s European Championship.
Earlier in the week, Olga Carmona struck late to lift Spain to a thrilling 2-1 win over Sweden in the other semi-final.
Carmona’s 90th-minute strike came off a long-range ping off the crossbar and into the goal two minutes after Rebecka Blomqvist tied the game for Sweden.
Salma Paralluelo, the quarter-final hero against the Netherlands, put Spain in the lead with the opening goal in the 81st minute, breathing life into a slow-burning, dangerous affair.
Who is in the England squad?
Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Aston Villa), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City)
Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Laura Coombs (Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Aston Villa), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United)
Ahead: Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Bethany England (Tottenham Hotspur), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Katie Robinson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Alessia Russo (Manchester United)
What did England say?
Speaking after the semi-final, Sarina Wiegman added: “When you make the first final, you think that’s special and it won’t happen again. Then you make a second, a third, a fourth, but in all your think that ‘it will never happen again’, because the competition is very difficult and there are many teams that can win the title, that it is very special, so I know that.”
Later in his press conference, he looked bewildered when asked about the end of Australia’s own ‘fairy tale’, saying simply: “I’m sorry!”, before adding: “Australia has done an incredible work, they really grew in the tournament.”
Asked how much her team has grown since lifting the trophy 13 months ago, Wiegman – who is the only female head coach left in this competition at the quarter-final stage – added: “A lot of things have has changed. England’s expectations are at an all-time high, but after winning the Euros, it has increased, but I also think the players’ lives have changed a lot. They really have to adapt to a new life that brings a lot of great things but also some challenges because everyone wants something from you, but you have to perform and we always say ‘performing has brought us to where we are now and performing wants. keep it up we are where we are’, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
What are the odds for the World Cup final?
When is the third place play off?
The two losing semi-finalists, Sweden and Australia, will play each other for the honor of winning the bronze medal at the World Cup.
Sweden have finished third in the previous two editions of the tournament, but this is Australia’s first time in the semi-finals. The play-off will take place at Lang Park in Brisbane on the evening of Saturday August 19 at 9am BST.
It is available to watch on the ITV website as well as BBC iPlayer.
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