England comes from behind to beat Colombia, advance to World Cup semifinals

SYDNEY (AP) — Alessia Russo fired England into the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup in a 2-1 win against Colombia on Saturday.

The Arsenal striker’s second-half goal completed a come-from-behind win for the Lionesses after Leicy Santos had given the Colombians a first-half lead.

Lauren Hemp equalized before halftime and Russo struck the winner in the 63rd minute as England advanced to the semifinals for the third straight time. It will face co-host Australia for a spot in the final.

Sarina Wiegman is also a step closer to her second consecutive Women’s World Cup final after her Netherlands team was runner-up to the United States in 2019.

England lost in the semifinals in 2015 and 2019, going out to Japan and the United States, respectively.

Wiegman led the Lionesses to victory in the European Championship last year, having won that competition with Netherlands in 2017.

With many of the favorites, including America, Germany, France and Japan, already eliminated, England will be increasingly confident that it can win its first Women’s World Cup.

It showed character to come back from Santos’ goal in the 44th at Stadium Australia, as well as cope with a partisan crowd that was hugely in favor Colombia.

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Then there was the physical approach of their opponents, who weighed in with a number of heavy challenges. Rachel Daly was sent to the ground after one particularly strong tackle in the first half and Alex Greenwood was caught in the face by Mayra Ramirez’ trailing arm.

Yet it was Colombia that suffered an early blow when Carolina Arias injured her left knee and had to be substituted. Later in the half she was seen sobbing on the on the bench after receiving treatment.

England created the clearer chances with Russo and Daly forcing saves from goalkeeper Catalina Perez.

The game burst into life as it neared halftime, with the crowd going wild when Santos gave Colombia an unexpected lead.

Taking the ball on the right of the box, she shaped to cross, but her effort instead flew directly toward goal, catching out England keeper Mary Earps and dipping under the bar.

It sparked an eruption of noise, while Colombia’s substitutes ran to join in the celebrations with Santos and the rest of the players.

If going behind for the first time in the tournament came as a shock to England, it didn’t show.

In response, the Lionesses produced arguably their most composed play as they controlled possession and probed Colombia’s half.

They evened the score after a mistake from Perez in the seventh minute of first-half stoppage time.

The keeper should have easily gathered the ball when Russo mis-controlled in the box, but let it slip out of her grasp and Hemp poked it over the line.

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Russo’s winner came after England had dominated the second half without managing to open up Colombia’s defense.

Georgia Stanway collected the ball around 40 yards (meters) from goal and slipped a pass to the striker, who held off a challenge from Daniela Arias before firing low into the far corner from a tight angle.

Colombia had made history by securing a place in the last eight for the first time and was the last remaining team from the Americas in the tournament.

But it couldn’t couldn’t find an equalizer, with Lorena Bedoya Durango’s long-range effort the closest it came to sending the game into extra time.

England will play Australia in Sydney on Wednesday.

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